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Full text of "The English humourists of the eighteenth century. A series of lectures, delivered in England, Scotland, and the United States of America"

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ENGLISH HUMOURISTS 



EIGHTEENTH CENTURY. 



THE 



ENGLISH HUMOURISTS 



OF THE 



EIGHTEENTH CENTURY, 



^ Series of ILectures, 



DELIVERED IN ENGLAND, SCOTLAND, AND THE UNITED STATES OF 

AMERICA. 



BY 

W. M. THACKERAY, 

Author of "Esmond," "Pendeiinis," "Vanity Fair,"&c. 



LONDON: 
SMITH, ELDER, & CO. 65, CORNHILL. 

BOMBAY : SMITH, TAYLOR, & CO. 



1853. 



I27ie author of this vjork reserves to himself the right of authorising 
a trandation of ii.] 



LONDON : 
EKADBORY AND EVANS, PRINTERS, "WHITEFRIARH. 



CONTENTS. 



-4- 



Lecture the First. 

Page 
SWIFT 1 



Lecture the Second. 
CONGREVE AND ADDISON 5 

Lecture the Third. 

STEELE 105 

Lecture the Fourth. 

PRIOR, GAT, AND POPE 160 

Lecture the Fifth. 

HOGARTH, SMOLLETT, AND FIELDING .219 

Lecture the Sixth. 

STERNE AND GOLDSMITH 269 



ERRATA. 

— ♦ — 

Page 56, last line but tliree,/o/- "an empire," rea.d "or empire." 
„ 83, line 11 ; for "Peggott," read " Doggett." 
,, 115, last line but four; for "detestable," read "delectable." 
,, 117, line 7; for "physic," read "physics." 

,, 150, line 14 ; for "the instinct we desire," read "the instinctive desire. 
,, 171, line 9 ; for "It was so kind," read "He was so kind." 
,, 177, line 11 ; for "deary idyllic," read "dreary idyllic." 
,, 196, line 5 ; for "a Hardy," read "or Hardy," 
,, 218, line 2 ; for "transcendant," read "transcendent." 
,, 226, line 20 ; for " as the clerk," read " and the clerk." 
„ 228, line 3; for "1800," read "1847." 
,, 250, line 4 ; for "wild," read "Welsh." 
,, 255, line 3 ; for "wine-stained," read "wine. Stained." 
,, 258, line 14; for "him," read "them." 
,, 28.3, line 18 ; for "point," read " paint." 
,, 294, line 15 ; for "of necessity," read " and necessity." 
,, 298, last line but one of text; for "dependants," read "dependents." 



THE ENGLISH HUMOURISTS 



OF THE 



EIGHTEENTH CENTURY. 



LECTURE THE FIRST. 



SWIFT. 
In treating of the English humourists of the i^ast 
age, it is of the men and of their lives, rather than of 
their books, that I ask permission to speak to you ; 
and in doing so, you are aware that I cannot hope to 
entertain you with a merely humourous or facetious 
story. Harlequin without his mask is known to 
present a very sober countenance, and was himself, 
the story goes, the melancholy patient whom the 
Doctor advised to go and see Harlequin ' — a man full 
of cares and perplexities like the rest of us, whose Self 
must always be serious to him, under whatever mask, 
or disguise, or uniform he presents it to the public. 
And as all of you here must needs be grave when you 



^ The anecdote is fi-equently told of our performer, Rich. 

B 



ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 



think of 3^our own past and present, you will not look 
to find, in tlie histories of those whose lives and feelings 
I am going to try and describe to you, a story that is 
otherwise than serious, and often very sad. If Humour 
only meant laughter, you would scarcely feel more 
interest about humourous writers than about the private 
life of poor Harlequin just mentioned, who possesses 
in common with these the power of making you laugh. 
But the men regarding whose lives and stories your 
kind presence here shows that you have curiosity 
and sympathy, appeal to a great number of our other 
faculties, besides our mere sense of ridicule. The 
humourous writer professes to awaken and direct your 
love, your pity, your kindness — your scorn for untruth, 
pretension, imposture — your tenderness for the weak, 
the poor, the oppressed, the unhappy. To the best of 
his means and ability he comments on all the ordinary 
actions and passions of life almost. He takes upon 
himself to be the week-day preacher, so to speak. 
According^, as he finds, and speaks, and feels the truth 
best, we regard him, esteem him — sometimes love him. 
And, as his business is to mark other people's lives and 
peculiarities, we moralise upon his life when he is gone 
— and yesterday's preacher becomes the text for to-day's 
sermon. 

Of English parents, and of a good English family of 
clergymen,* Swift was born in Dublin in 1G67, seven 



^ He was from a younger branch of the Swifts of Yorkshire. His 



SWIFT. 3 

months after tlie death of his father, who had come to 
practise there as a lawyer. The boy went to school at 
Kilkenny, and afterwards to Trinity College, Dublin, 
where he got a degree with difficulty, and was wild, and 
witty, and poor. In 1688, by the recommendation of 
his mother. Swift was received into the family of Sir 
AVilliam Temple, who had known Mrs. Swift in Ireland. 
He left his patron in 1693, and the next year took 
orders in Dublin. But he threw up the small Irish 
preferment which he got, and returned to Temple, in 
whose family he remained until Sk William's death in 
1699. His hopes of advancement in England failing, 
Swift returned to Ireland, and took the living of 
Laracor. Hither he invited Hester Johnson,* Temple's 



gi'andfather, the Rev. Thomas Swift, Vicar of Goodrich, in Hereford- 
shire, suffered for his loyalty in Charles I.'s time. That gentleman 
married Elizabeth Dryden, a member of the family of the poet. Sir 
Walter Scott gives, with his characteristic minuteness in such points, 
the exact relationship between these famous men. Swift was " the son 
of Dryden's second cousin." Swift, too, was the enemy of Dryden's 
reputation. Witness the " Battle of the Books :" — " The difference was 
greatest among the horse," says he of the moderns, "where every 
private trooper pretended to the command, from Tasso and Milton to 
Dryden and Withers." And in '* Poetry, a Rhapsody," he advises the 
poetaster to — 

" Read all the Prefaces of Dryden, 
For these our critics much confide in, 
Though merely writ, at first, for filling. 
To raise the volume's price a shilling." 

** Cousin Swift, you will never be a poet/' was the phrase of Dryden to 
his kinsman, which remained alive in a memory tenacious of such matters. 
^ " Miss Hetty" she was called in the family — where her face, and 
her dress, and Sir William's treatment of her, — all made the real fact 
about her birth plain enough. Sir William left her a thousand pounds. 

B 2 



ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 



natural daugiiter, -with whom he had contracted a 
tender friendship, while they were both dependants of 
Temple's. And with an occasional visit to England, 
Swift now passed nine years at home. 

In 1709 he came to England, and, with a brief visit 
to Ireland, dming which he took possession of his 
deanery of St. Patrick, he now passed five years in 
England, taking the most distinguished part in the poli- 
tical transactions which terminated with the death of 
Queen Ainie. After her death, his party disgraced, and 
his hopes of ambition over, Swift returned to Dublin, 
where he remained twelve years. In this time he 
wrote the famous "Drapier's Letters" and "Gulliver's 
Travels." He married Hester Johnson, Stella, and 
buried Esther Vanhomrigh, Vanessa, who had followed 
him to Ireland from London, where she had contracted 
a violent passion for him. In 1726 and 1727 Swift was 
in England, which he quitted for the last time on 
hearing of his wife's ilhiess. Stella died in January, 
1728, and Swift not until 1745, ha^dng passed the last 
five of the seventy-eight years of his life, with an 
impaired intellect and keepers to watch him.* 



^ Sometimes, during his mental affliction, lie continued walking 
about the house foi^ many consecutive hours ; sometimes he remained 
in a kind of torpor. At times, he would seem to struggle to bring into 
distinct consciousness and shape into expression, the intellect that lay- 
smothering under gloomy obstruction in him. A pier-glass falling by 
accident, nearly fell on him. He said, lie wished it had ! He once 
repeated, slowly, several times, " I am what I am." The last thing he 
wrote was an epigiam on the building of a magazine for arms and 



SWIFT. 5 

You know, of course, that Swift lias had many 
biographers ; his hfe has been told by the Idndest and 
most good-natured of men, Scott, who admires but can't 
bring himself to love him ; and by stout old Johnson,* 
who, forced to admit him into the company of poets, 
receives the famous Irishman, and takes off his hat to 
him with a bow of surly recognition, scans him from 
head to foot, and passes over to the other side of the 
street. Dr. Wilde of Dublin,^ who has written a most 



stores, which was pointed out to him as he went abroad during his 
mental disease : — 

^ Behold a proof of Irish sense : 

Here Irish wit is seen ; 
When nothing's left that's worth defence, 
They build a magazine ! 

^ Besides these famous books of Scott's and Johnson's, there is a 
copious " Life " by Thomas Sheridan (Dr. Johnson's " Sherry "), father 
of Richard Brinsley, and son of that good-natured, clever, Irish, Dr. 
Thomas Sheridan, Swift's intimate, who lost his chaplaincy by so 
unluckily choosing for a text on the king's birthday, "Sufficient for 
the day is the evil thereof ! " Not to mention less important works, 
there is also the *' Remarks on the Life and Writings of Dr. Jonathan 
Swift," by that polite and dignified writer, the Earl of Orrery. His 
lordship is said to have striven for literary renown, chiefly that he 
might make up for the slight passed on him by his father, who left his 
library away from him. It is to be feared that the ink he used to 
wash out that stain only made it look bigger. He had, however, known 
Swift, and corresponded with people who knew him. His work (which 
appeared in 1751) provoked a good deal of controversy, calling out, 
among other Irochures, the interesting " Observations on Lord Oi-rery's 
Remarks," &c. of Dr. Delany. 

- Dr. Wilde's book was written on the occasion of the remains of 
Swift and Stella being brought to the light of day — a thing which 
happened in 1835, when certain works going on in St. Patrick's 
Cathedral, Dublin, afforded an opportunity of their being examined. 



6 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

interesting volume on the closing years of Swift's life, 
calls Johnson " the most malignant of his biographers : " 
it is not easy for an English critic to please Irishmen 
— perhaps to try and please them. And yet Johnson 
truly admires Swift : Johnson does not quarrel with 
Swift's change of politics, or doubt his sincerity of 
religion : about the famous Stella and Vanessa contro- 
versy the Doctor does not bear very hardly on Swift. 
But he could not give the Dean that honest hand of his ; 
the stout old man puts it into his breast, and moves off 
from him.* 

Would we have lilted to live with him ? That is a 
question which, in dealing with these people's w^orks, 
and thinking of their lives and peculiarities, every 
reader of biographies must put to himself. Would you 
have liked to be a friend of the great Dean ? I should 
like to have been Shakspeare's shoeblack — ^just to have 
lived in his house, just to have worshipped liim — to 
have run on his errands, and seen that sweet serene 



One hears with surprise of these skulls "going the rounds " of houses, 
and being made the objects of dilettante curiosity. The larynx of 
Swift was actually carried off ! Phrenologists had a low opinion of his 
intellect, from the observations they took. 

Dr. Wilde traces the symptoms of ill-health in Swift, as detailed in 
his writings from time to time. He observes, likewise, that the skull 
gave evidence of " diseased action " of the brain during life — such as 
would be produced by an increasing tendency to '' cerebral congestion." 

^ " He [Dr. Johnson] seemed to mc to have an unaccountable preju- 
dice against Swift ; for I once took the liberty to ask him if S^vift had 
personally offended him, and he told me he had not." — Boswell's Tour 
to the Hebrides. 



SWIFT. 7 

face. I should like, as a j^oung man, to have lived on 
Fielding's stair-case in the Temple, and after helping 
him up to bed perhaps, and opening his door with his 
latch-key, to have shaken hands with him in the 
morning, and heard him talk and crack jokes over his 
breakfast and his mug of small beer. Who would not 
give something to pass a night at the club with 
Johnson, and Goldsmith, and James Boswell, Esq., of 
Auchinleck ? The charm of Addison's companion- 
ship and conversation has passed to us by fond 
tradition— — but Swift ? If you had been his in- 
ferior in parts (and that, with a great respect for 
all persons present, I fear is only very likely), 
his equal in mere social station, he would have 
bullied, scorned, and insulted you ; if, undeterred by 
his great reputation, you had met him like a man, he 
would have quailed before you,^ and not had the pluck 
to reply, and gone home, and years after written a foul 
epigTam about you — watched for you in a sewer, and 
come out to assail you with a coward's blow and a dirty 



^ Few men, to be sure, dared this experiment, but yet their success 
was encouraging. One gentleman made a point of asking the Dean, 
whether his uncle Godwin had not given him his education. Swift, 
who hated that subject cordially, and, indeed, cared little for his 
kindred, said, sternly, " Yes ; he gave me the education of a dog." 
" Then, sir," cried the other, striking his fist on the table, " you have 
not the gratitude of a dog ! " 

Other occasions there were when a bold face gave the Dean pause, 
even after his Irish almost-royal position was established. But he 
brought himself into greater danger on a certain occasion and the 



8 ENGLISH HUMOUEISTS. 

bludgeon. If you had been a lord with a blue riband, 
wlio flattered his vanity, or could help his ambition, he 
would have been the most delightful company in the 
world. He would have been so manly, so sarcastic, so 
bright, odd, and original, that you might think he had 
no object in view but the indulgence of his humour, 
and that he was the most reckless, simple creature in 
the world. How he would have torn your enemies to 
pieces for you ! and made fun of the Opposition ! His 
servility was so boisterous that it looked like inde- 
pendence ; ^ he would have done your errands, but with 
the air of patronising you, and after fighting your 
battles masked in the street or the press, would have 



amusing circumstances may be once more repeated here. He had 
unsparingly lashed the notable Dublin lawyer, Mr. Serjeant Bettes- 
worth — 

" So, at the bar, the booby Bettesworth, 

Though half-a-crown out-pays his sweat's worth, 

Who knows in law nor text nor margent, 

Calls Singleton his brother-serjeant ! " 

The Serjeant, it is said, swore to have his life. He presented himself 
at the deanery. The Dean asked his name. *'Sir, I am Serjeant 
Bett-es-worth." 

" In what regiment, pray ? " asked Swift. 

A guard of volunteers formed themselves to defend the Dean this 
time. 

^ '' But, my Hamilton, I will never hide the freedom of my senti- 
ments from you. I am much inclined to believe that the temper of my 
friend Swift might occasion his English friends to wish him happily 
and properly promoted at a distance. His spirit, for I would give it 
the proper name, was ever untractable. The motions of his genius 
were often irregular. He assumed more the air of a patron than of a 
friend. He affected rather to dictate than advise." — Orrehy. 



SWIFT. 9 

kept on liis hat before your wife and dangliters in the 
drawing-room, content to take that sort of pay for his 
tremendous services as a bravo/ 

He says as much himself in one of his letters to 
Bohngbroke : — " All my endeavours to distinguish 
myself were only for want of a gTeat title and fortune, 
that I might be used like a lord by those who have an 
opmion of my parts ; whether right or wrong is no 
great matter. And so the reputation of wit and great 
learniug does the office of a blue riband or a coach 
and six." ^ 



^ . . . . "An anecdote which, though only told by Mrs. Pilkington, 
is well attested, bears, that the last time he was in London he went 
to dine with the Earl of Bui'lington, who was but newly married. 
The Earl, it is supposed, being willing to have a little diversion, did 
not introduce him to his lady, nor mention his name. After dinner, 
said the Dean, ' Lady Burlington, I hear you can sing ; sing me a 
song.' The lady looked on this unceremonious manner of asking 
a favour with distaste, and positively refused. He said ' She should 
sing, or he would make her. Why, madam, I suppose you take me 
for one of your poor English hedge-parsons; sing when I bid you.' 
As the Earl did nothing but laugh at this freedom, the lady was so 
vexed that she burst into tears and retu-ed. His first compliment to 
her when he saw her again was, ' Pray, madam, are you as proud and 
ill-natured now as when I saw you last ] ' To which she answered with 
great good-humour, ' No, Mr. Dean, I'll sing for you if you please.' 
From which time he conceived a great esteem for her." — Scott's Life. 

.... " He had not the least tincture of vanity in his conversation. 
He was, perhaps, as he said himself, too proud to be vain. WTien he 
was polite, it was in a manner entirely his own. In his friendships he 
was constant and undisguised. He was the same in his enmities.''—- 
Orrery. 

^ "I make no figure but at court, where I afiect to turn from a lord 
to the meanest of my acquaintances." — Journal to Stella. 

" 1 am plagued with bad authors, verse and prose, who send me 



10 ENGLISH HUMOUEISTS. 

Could there be a greater candour ? It is an outlaw, 
who says, " These are my brains ; with these I'll win 
titles and compete with fortune. These are my bullets ; 
these I'll turn into gold ; " and he hears the sound of 
coaches and six, takes the road like Macheath, and 
makes society stand and deliver. They are all on their 
knees before him. Down go my lord bishop's apron, 
and his Grace's blue riband, and my lady's brocade 
petticoat in the mud. He eases the one of a living, the 
other of a patent place, the third of a little snug post 
about the Court, and gives them over to followers of 
his own. The great prize has not come yet. The coach 
with the mitre and crosier in it, which he intends to 
have for his share, has been delayed on the way from 
St. James's; and he waits and waits until nightfall, 
when his runners come and tell him that the coach 
has taken a different road, and escaped him. So he 
fires his pistols into the air with a curse, and rides 
away into his own country.* 



their books and poems, the vilest I ever saw ; but I have given their 
names to my man, never to let them see me." — Journal to Stella. 

The following curious paragraph illustrates the life of a courtier : — 
" Did I ever tell you that the Lord Treasurer hears ill with the left 

ear just as I do ? I dare not tell him that I am so, sir ; for 

fear he should think that I counterfeited to make my court f" — Journal to 
Stella. 

^ The war of pamphlets was carried on fiercely on one side and the 
other : and the "Whig attacks made the ministry Swift served very 
sore. Bolingbroke laid hold of several of the Opposition pamphleteers, 
and bewails their " factiousness " in the following letter : 



SWIFT. 11 

Swift's seems to me to be as good a name to point a 
moral or adorn a tale of ambition, as any hero's that 
ever lived and failed. But we must remember that the 



"BOLINGBBOKE TO THE EaRL OF StRAFFORD. 

" Whitehall, July 2Srd, 1712. 

" It is a melancholy consideration that the laws of our country are too 
weak to punish effectually those factious scribblers, who presume to 
blacken the brightest characters, and to give even scurrilous language 
to those who are in the first degrees of honour. This, my lord, among 
others, is a symptom of the decayed condition of our government, and 
serves to show how fatally we mistake licentiousness for liberty. All 
I could do was to take up Hart, the printer, to send him to Newgate, 
and to bind him over upon bail to be prosecuted ; this I have done, 
and if I can arrive at legal proof against the author Ridpath, he shall 
have the same treatment." 

Swift was not behind his illustrious friend in this virtuous indigna- 
tion. In the history of the four last years of the Queen, the Dean 
speaks in the most edifying manner of the licentiousness of the press 
and the abusive language of the other party : 

" It must be acknowledged that the bad practices of printers have 
been such as to deserve the severest animadversion from the public. 

The adverse party, full of rage and leisure since their fall, 

and unanimous in their cause, employ a set of writers by subscription 
who are w^ell versed in all the topics of defamation and have a style and 

genius levelled to the generality of their readers However, 

the mischiefs of the press were too exorbitant to be cured by such a 
remedy as a tax upon small papers, and a bill for a much more 
effectual regulation of it was brought into the House of Commons, 
but so late in the session that there was no time to pass it, for there 
always appeared an unwillingness to cramp overmuch the liberty of 
the press." 

But to a clause in the proposed bill, that the names of authors 
should be set to every printed book, pamphlet, or paper, his reverence 
objects altogether, for, says he, "beside the objection to this clause 
from the practice of pious men, who, in publishing excellent writings 
for the service of religion, have chosen, out of an humble Christian 
■spirit, to conceal their names j it is certain that all persons of true genius 



]a ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

morality was lax, — that other gentlemen besides him- 
self took the road in his day, — that public society was 
in a strange disordered condition, and the State was 
ravaged by other condottieri. The Boyne was bemg 
fought and won, and lost — the bells rung in Wilham's 
victory, in the very same tone with which they would 
have pealed for James's. Men were loose upon politics, 
and to shift for themselves. They, as well as old 



or knowledge have an invincible modesty and suspicion of themselves 
upon their first sending their thoughts into the world." 

This "invincible modesty" was no doubt the sole reason which 
induced the Dean to keep the secret of the "Drapier's Letters," and a 
hundred humble Christian works of which he was the author. As for 
the Opposition, the Doctor was for dealing severely with them: he writes 
to Stella :— 

Journal. Letter XIX. 

" London, March 25th, 1710-11. 

" "We have let Guiscard be buried at last, after showing 

him pickled in a trough this fortnight for twopence a piece ; and the 

fellow that showed would point to his body and say, ' See, gentlemen, 

this is the wound that was given him by his Grace the Duke of 

Ormond ; ' and, * This is the wound,' &c, ; and then the show was 

over, and another set of rabble came in. 'Tis hard that our laws 

would not suffer us to hang his body in chains, because he was not 

tried ; and in the eye of the law every man is innocent till then." 
****** 

Journal. Letter XXVII. 

''London, Jidy 25th, 1711. 
" I was this afternoon with Mr. Secretary at his office, and helped to 
hinder a man of his pardon, who is condemned for a rape. The Under 
Secretary was willing to save him ; but I told the Secretary he could 
not pardon him without a favourable report from the Judge ; besides, 
he was a fiddler, and conseqviently a rogue, and deserved hanging for 
something else, and so he shall swing." 



SWIFT. 13 

beliefs and institutions, had lost tlieii' moorings and 
gone adrift in the storm. As in the South Sea Bubble 
almost everybody gambled ; as in the Railway mania 
— not many centuries ago — almost every one took his 
unlucky share ; a man of that time, of the vast talents 
and ambition of Swift, could scarce do otherwise than 
grasp at his prize, and make his spring at his oppor- 
tunity. His bitterness, his scorn, his rage, his 
subsequent misanthropy, are ascribed by some pane- 
gyrists to a deliberate conviction of mankind's unworthi- 
ness, and a desire to amend them by castigating. His 
youth was bitter, as that of a great genius bound down 
by ignoble ties, and powerless in a mean dependence ; 
his age was bitter,* like that of a great genius that had 
fought the battle and nearly won it, and lost it, and 
thought of it afterwards writhing in a lonely exile. A 
man may attribute to the gods, if he likes, what is 
caused by his own fury, or disappointment, or self-will. 
What public man — what statesman projecting a coup — 
w^hat king determined on an invasion of his neighbour — 
what satirist meditating an onslaught on society or an 
individual, can't give a pretext for his move ? There 
was a French general the other day who proposed to 
march into this country and put it to sack and pillage, 
in revenge for humanity outraged by our conduct at 
Copenhagen, — there is always some excuse for men of 



1 It was tis constant pi-actice to keep his birth-day as a day of 
mourning. 



14 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

the aggressive turn. They are of their nature warlike, 
predatory, eager for fight, pkmder, dominion.' 

As fierce a heak and talon as ever struck — as strong 
a wing as ever beat, belonged to Swift. I am glad, for 
one, that fate wrested the prey out of liis claws, and 
cut his wings and chained him. One can gaze, and 
not without awe and pity, at the lonely eagle chained 
behind the bars. 

That Swift was born at No. 7, Hoey's-court, Dublin, 
on the 30th November, 1G67, is a certain fact, of which 
nobody will deny the sister island the honour and 
glory ; but, it seems to me, he was no more an Irish- 
man than a man born of English parents at Calcutta 
is a Hindoo.* Goldsmith was an Irishman and always 



^ " These devils of Gi-ub-street rogues, that write the Flying-Post 
and Medley in one paper, will not be quiet. They are always mauling 
Lord Treasurer, Lord Bolingbroke, and me. We have the dog under 
prosecution, but Bolingbroke is not active enough: but I hope to 
swinge him. He is a Scotch rogue, one Ridpath. They get out upon 
bail, and write on. We take them again, and get fresh bail ; so it goes 
round." — Jownal to Stella. 

2 Swift was by no means inclined to forget such considerations ; and 
his English birth makes its mark, strikingly enough, every now and 
then in his writings. Thus in a letter to Pope (Scott's Swift, vol. xix. 
p. 97), he says — 

"We have had your volume of letters .... Some of those who 
highly value you, and a few who knew you personally, are grieved to 
find you make no distinction between the English gentry of this 
kingdom, and the savage old Irish (who are only the vulgar, and some 
gentlemen who live in the Irish pai'ts of the kingdom) ; but the 
English colonies, who are three parts in four, are much more civilized 
than many counties in England, and speak better English, and are much 
better bred." 



SWIFT. 15 

an Irishman : Steele was an Irishman, and always an 
Irishman: Swift's heart was EngHsh and in England, 
liis habits English, his logic eminently Enghsh; liis 
statement is elaborately simple ; he shuns tropes and 
metaphors, and uses his ideas and words with a wise 
tlnift and economy, as he used his money ; with which 
he could be generous and splendid upon great occasions, 
but which he husbanded when there was no need to 
spend it. He never indulges in needless extravagance 
of rhetoric, lavish epithets, profuse imagery. He lays 
his opinion before you with a grave simpHcity and a 
j)erfect neatness.^ Dreading ridicule too, as a man of 



And again, in the fourth Drapier's Letter, we have the following : — 

"A short paper, printed at Bristol, and reprinted here, reports 
Mr. Wood to say ' that he wonders at the impudence and insolence of 
the Irish, in refusing his coin.' "When by the way, it is the true 
English people of Ireland who refiise it, although we take it for gi'anted 
that the Irish will do so too whenever they are asked." — Scott's Swift, 
vol. iv. p. 143. 

He goes fui-ther, in a good-humoured satirical paper, " On Barbarous 
Denominations in Ireland," where (after abusing, as he was wont, the 
Scotch cadence, as well as expression) he advances to the "Irish brogue" 
and speaking of the " censure " which it brings down, says : — 

*'And what is yet worse, it is too well known that the bad 
consequence of this opinion affects those among vis who are not the 
least liable to such reproaches farther than the misfortune of being 
born in Ireland, although of English parents, and whose education has 
been chiefly in that kingdom." — Ihid, vol. vii. p. 149. 

But, indeed, if we are to make anything of Race at all, we must call 
that man an Englishman whose father comes from an old Yorkshire 
family, and his mother from an old Leicestershire one ! 

^ " The style of his conversation was very much of a piece with that 
of his writings, concise and clear and strong. Being one day at a 
Sheriff's feast, who amongst other toasts called out to him, * Mr. Dean, 



16 EN'GLISH HUMOURISTS. 

his humour — above all an Englishman of his humour — 
certainly would, he is afraid to use the poetical power 
wliich he really possessed ; one often fancies in reading 
him that he dares not be eloquent when he might ; 
that he does not speak above his voice, as it were, and 
the tone of society. 

His initiation into politics, his knowledge of business, 
his knowledge of pohte Hfe, his acquaintance with 
literature even, which he could not have pursued very 
sedulously during that reckless career at Dublin, 
Swift got under the roof of Sir William Temple. He 
was fond of telHng in after life what quantities of 
books he devoured there, and how King William taught 
him to cut asparagus in the Dutch fashion. It was at 
Shene and at Moor Park, with a salary of twenty 
pounds and a dinner at the upper servants' table, that 
this great and lonely Swift passed a ten years' appren- 
ticeship — wore a cassock that was only not a livery — 
bent down a knee as proud as Lucifer's to supplicate 



The trade of Ireland ! ' He answered quick : ' Sir, I drink no 
memories ! ' 

" Happening to be in company with a petulant young man who prided 
himself on saying pert things . . . and who cried out — 'You must 
know, Mr, Dean, that I set up for a wit ? ' 'Do you so,' says the Dean, 
' take my advice, and sit down again ! ' 

" At another time, being in company, where a lady whisking her long 
train [long trains were then in fashion] swept down a fine fiddle and 
broke it ; Swift cried out — 

" Mantua v£e miserse nimium vicina Cremona) ! " 
— Dr. Del ANT. Observations ui^on Lord Orrery's " EemarJcs, cCr." in 
Swift. London, 1754. 



SWIFT. 17 

my lady's good graces, or run on his honour's errands/ 
It was here, as he was writing at Temple's table, or 
following his patron's walk, that he saw and heard the 
men who had governed the great world — measured 
himself with them, looking up from his silent corner, 
gauged their brains, weighed their wits, turned 
them, and tried them, and marked them. Ah ! 
what platitudes he must have heard ! what feeble 
jokes ! what pompous commonplaces ! what small 
men they must have seemed under those enormous 
periwigs, to the swarthy, uncouth, silent Irish secre- 
tary. I wonder whether it ever struck Temple that 
that Irishman was his master ? I suppose that dismal 
conviction did not present itself under the ambrosial 
wig, or Temple could never have lived with Swift. 
Swift sickened, rebelled, left the service, — ate humble 
pie and came back again ; and so for ten years went 
on, gathering learning, swallowing scorn, and submit- 
ting with a stealthy rage to his fortune. 

Temple's style is the perfection of practised and 
easy good-breeding. If he does not penetrate very 
deeply into a subject, he professes a very gentlemanly 
acquaintance with it ; if he makes rather a parade of 
Latin, it was the custom of his day, as it was the 



^ " Don't you remember how I used to be in pain when Sir William 
Temple would look cold and out of humour for three or four days, 
and I used to suspect a hundred reasons? I have plucked up my 
spirits since then, faith; he spoiled a fine gentleman." — Journal 
to Stella. 

c 



18 ENGLISH HUMOUEISTS. 

custom for a gentleman to envelope liis head in a peri- 
wig and liis hands in lace ruffles. If he wears buckles 
and square-toed shoes, he steps in them with a con- 
summate grace, and you never hear their creak, or 
find them treading upon any lady's train or any rival's 
heels in the Court crowd. When that gTows too hot 
or too agitated for him, he politely leaves it. He 
retires to his retreat of Shene or Moor Park ; and lets 
the King's party, and the Prince of Orange's party 
battle it out among themselves. He reveres the 
sovereign, (and no man perhaps ever testified to his 
loyalty by so elegant a bow :) he admires the Prince 
of Orange ; but there is one person whose ease and 
comfort he loves more than all the princes in Chris- 
tendom, and that valuable member of society Is 
himself, Gulielmus Temple, Baronettus. One sees him 
in his retreat; between his study -chair and his tuHp 
beds,* chpping his apricots and prmimg his essays, — 



^ . . . " The Epicureans were more intelligible in their notion, and 
fortunate in their expression, when they placed a man's happiness 
in the tranquillity of his mind and indolence of body; for while 
we are composed of both, I doubt both must have a share in the 
good or ill we feel. As men of several languages say the same things 
in very different words, so in several ages, countries, constitutions of 
laws and religion, the same thing seems to be meant by very different 
expressions ; what is called by the Stoics apathy, or dispassion ; by the 
sceptics, indisturbance ; by the Moliuists, quietism ; by common men, 
peace of conscience, — seems all to mean but great. For this reason 
Epicurus passed his life wholly in his garden : there he studied, there 
he exercised, there he taught his philosophy; and, indeed, no other 
sort of abode seems to contribute so much to both the tranquillity of 



SWIFT. 19 

the statesman, the ambassador no more ; but the philo- 
sopher, the Epicurean, the fine gentleman and courtier 
at St. James's as at Shene ; where in place of kings and 
fair ladies, he pays his court to the Ciceronian majesty ; 
or walks a minuet with the Epic Muse ; or dallies by the 
south wall with the ruddy nymph of gardens. 

Temple seems to have received and exacted a 
prodigious deal of veneration from his household, and 
to have been coaxed, and warmed, and cuddled by the 
people round about him, as delicately as any of the 
plants which he loved. ^Vlien he fell ill in 1693, 
the household was aghast at his indisposition; mild 



mind and indolence of body, whicli he made Lis chief ends. The 
sweetness of the air, the pleasantness of smell, the verdure of plants, 
the cleanness and lightness of food, the exercise of working or walking; 
but, above all, the exemption from cares and solicitude, seem equally 
to favoiir and improve both contemplation and health, the enjoyment 
of sense and imagination, and thereby the quiet and ease both of the 

body and mind Where Paradise was has been much debated, 

and little agreed ; but what sort of place is meant by it may perhaps 
easier be conjectured. It seems to have been a Persian word, since 
Xenophon and other Greek authors mention it, as what was much in 
use and delight among the kings of those eastern countries. Strabo 
describing Jericho : * Ibi est palmetum, cui immixtae sunt etiam alise 
stirpes hortense?, locus ferax palmis abundans, spatio stadioitim centum, 
totus irriguus, ibi est Regis Balsami paradisus.' " — Essay on Gardens. 

In the same famous essay Temple speaks of a friend, whose conduct 
and prudence he characteristically admires. 

. ..." I thought it very prudent in a gentleman of my friends in 
Staffordshire, who is a great lover of his garden, to pretend no higher, 
though his soil be good enough, than to the perfection of plums ; and 
in these (by bestowing south walls upon them) he has very well suc- 
ceeded, which he could never have done in attempts iipon peaches and 
grapes ; and a good ]()lum is certainly better than an ill 2^each." 

c 2 



20 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

Dorothea liis wife, the best companion of the best of 
men — 

" Mild Dorothea, peaceful, wise, and great. 
Trembling beheld the doubtful hand of fate." 

As for Dorinda, his sister, — 

" Those who would grief describe, might come and trace 
Its watery footsteps in Dorinda's face. 
To see her weep, joy every face forsook, 
And grief flung sables on each menial look. 
The humble tribe mourned for the quickening soul, 
That furnished life and spirit through the whole." 

Isn't that line in which grief is described as putting 
the menials into a mourning livery, a fine image ? One 
of the menials wrote it, who did not like that Temple 
livery nor those twenty-pound wages. Cannot one 
fancy the uncouth young servitor, with downcast eyes, 
books and papers in hand, following at his Honour's 
heels in the garden walk; or taking his Honour's orders 
as he stands by the great chair, where Sir William has 
the gout, and his feet all blistered with moxa ? When 
Sir Wilham has the gout or scolds it must be hard 
work at the second table ; ^ the Irish secretary owned 



^ Swift's Thoughts on Hanging. 

[Directions to Servants.) 

" To grow old in the office of a footman, is the highest of all indig- 
nities ; therefore, when you find years coming on without hopes of a 
place at court, a command in the army, a succession to the stewardship, 
an employment in the revenue (which two last you cannot obtain 
without reading and writing), or running away with your master's 
niece or daughter, I directly advise you to go upon the road, which is 
the only post of honour left you : there you will meet many of your 



SWIFT. 21 

as mucli afterwards : and wlien he came to dinner, how 
he must have lashed and growled and torn the house- 
hold with his gibes and scorn ! What would the 
steward say about the pride of them Irish schollards 
— and this one had got no great credit even at his Irish 
college, if the truth were known — and what a contempt 
his excellency's own gentleman must have had for 
Parson Teague from Dublin. (The valets and chaplains 
were always at war. It is hard to say which Swift 
thought the more contemptible.) And what must have 



old comrades, and live a short life and a merry one, and making a 
figure at your exit, wherein I will give you some instructions. 

" The last advice I give you relates to your behaviour when you are 
going to be hanged ; which, either for robbing your master, for house- 
breaking, or going upon the highway, or in a drunken quarrel by 
killing the first man you meet, may very probably be your lot, and is 
owing to one of these three qualities : either a love of good fellowship, 
a generosity of mind, or too much vivacity of spirits. Your good 
behaviour on this article will concern your whole community : deny 
the fact with all solemnity of imprecations : a hundred of your 
brethren, if they can be admitted, will attend about the bar, and 
be ready upon demand to give you a character before the Court ; 
let nothing prevail on you to confess, but the promise of a pardon for 
discovering your comrades : but I suppose all this to be in vain ; for 
if you escape now, your fate will be the same another day. Get a 
speech to be written by the best author of Xewgate : some of your 
kind wenches will provide you with a holland shirt and white cap, 
crowned with a crimson or black libbon : take leave cheerfully of all 
your friends in Newgate : mount the cart with covn-age ; fall on your 
knees ; lift up your eyes ; hold a book in your hands, although you 
cannot read a word ; deny the fact at the gallows ; kiss and forgive the 
hangman, and so farewell ; you shall be buried in pomp at the charge 
of the fraternity : the surgeon shall not touch a limb of you ; and your 
fame shall continue imtil a successor of equal renown succeeds in your 
place " 



ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 



been the sadness, tlie sadness and terror, of the house- 
keeper's little daughter with the curling black ringlets 
and the sweet smiling face, when the secretary who 
teaches her to read and write, and whom she loves and 
reverences above all things — above mother, above mild 
Dorotliea, above that tremendous Sir WilHam in his 
square-toes and periwig, — when Air. Swift comes 
down from his master with rage in his heart, and has 
not a Idnd word even for little Hester Johnson ? 

Perhaps for the Irish secretary, his Excellency's 
condescension was even more cruel than his frowns. 
Sir William ivould perpetually quote Latin and the 
ancient classics a proi:>os of his gardens and his Dutch 
statues and 'plates hancles, and talk about Epicurus and 
Diogenes Laertius, Julius Csesar, Semiramis, and the 
gardens of the Hesperides, Maecenas, Strabo describing 
Jericho, and the Assyrian kings. A j)ro2Jos of beans, 
he would mention Pythagoras's precept to abstain from 
beans, and that this precept probably meant that wise 
men should abstain from public affairs. He is a placid 
Epicurean ; he is a Pythagorean philosopher ; he is a 
wise man — that is the deduction. Does not Swift thmk 
so ? One can imagine the downcast eyes lifted up for a 
moment, and the flash of scorn which they emit. Swift's 
eyes were as azure as the heavens ; Pope says nobly 
(as everything Pope said and thought of his friend 
was good and noble), " His eyes are as azure as the 
heavens, and have a charming archness in them." And 



SWIFT. 23 

one person in that household, that pompous stately 
kindly Moor Park, saw heaven no where else. 

But the Temple amenities and solemnities did not 
agree with Swift. He was half-killed with a surfeit of 
Shene pippins ; and in a garden-seat which he devised for 
himself at Moor Park, and where he devoured greedily 
the stock of books within his reach, he caught a vertigo 
and deafness which punished and tormented him through 
life. He could not bear the place or the servitude. 
Even in that poem of courtly condolence, from which 
we have quoted a few lines of mock melancholy, he 
breaks out of the funereal procession with a mad shriek, 
as it were, and rushes away crying his own grief, 
cursing his own fate, foreboding madness, and forsaken 
by fortune, and even hope. 

I don't know anything more melancholy than the 
letter to Temple, in which, after having broke from 
his bondage, the poor wretch crouches piteously towards 
his cage again, and deprecates his master's anger. He 
asks for testimonials for orders. " The particulars 
required of me are what relate to morals and learning; 
and the reasons of quitting your Honour's family — that 
is whether the last was occasioned by any ill action. 
They are left entirely to your Honour's mercy, though 
in the first I think I cannot reproach myself for any- 
thing further than for infirmities. This is all I dare at 
present beg from your Honour, under cii'cumstances of 
life not worth your regard : what is left me to wish 



24 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

(next to the liealtli and prosperity of your Honour and 
family) is that Heaven would one day allow me the 
opportunity of leaving my acknowledgments at jour 
feet. I beg my most humble duty and service be 
presented to my ladies, your Honour's lady and 
sister." — Can prostration fall deeper ? could a slave 
bow lower ? * 

Twenty years afterwards Bishop Kennet, describing 



* " He continued in Sir William Temple's house till the death of 
that great man." — Anecdotes of the Family of Swift, by the Dean. 

'' It has since pleased God to take this great and good person to 
himself." — Preface to Temple's Worlcs. 

On all public occasions, Swift speaks of Sir William in the same 
tone. But the reader will better understand how acutely he 
remembered the indignities he suffered in his household, from the 
subjoined extracts from the Journal to Stella: — 

" I called at Mr. Secretary the other day, to see what the d 

ailed him on Sunday ; I made him a very proper speech ; told him I 
observed he was much out of temper, that I did not expect he would 
tell me the cause, but would be glad to see he was in better ; and 
one thing I warned him of — never to appear cold to me, for I would 
not be treated like a schoolboy ; that I had felt too much of that in my 
life already" {meaning Sir William Temple), &c. &c. — Journal to Stella. 

" I am thinking what a veneration we used to have for Sir William 
Temple because he might have been secretary of state at fifty; and 
here is a young fellow hardly thirty in that employment." — Ibid. 

" The Secretary is as easy with me as Mr. Addison was. I have 
often thought what a splutter Sir William Temple makes about being 
Secretary of State." — Ibid. 

" Lord Treasurer has had an ugly fit of the rheumatism, but is now 
quite well. I was playing at one-and-thirty with him and his family 
the other night. He gave us all twelvepence apiece to begin with : it 
put me in mind of Sir William Temple." — Ibid. 

"I thought I saw Jack Temple [nephew to Sir William,'] and his 
wife pass by me to-day in their coach ; but I took no notice of them, 
I am glad I have wholly shaken oflf that family." — S. to S., Se2'>t. 1710. 



SWIFT. 25 

the same man, says, " Dr. Swift came into the coffee- 
house and had a bow from everybody but me. When I 
came to the antechamber [at Court] to wait before 
prayers. Dr. Swift was the principal man of talk and 
business. He was sohciting the Earl of AiTan to speak 
to his brother, the Duke of Ormond, to get a place for 
a clergyman. He was promising Mr. Thorold to under- 
take, with my Lord Treasurer, that he should obtain a 
salary of 2001. per annum as member of the English 
Chm'ch at Eotterdam. He stopped F. Gwynne, Esq., 
going in to the Queen with the red bag, and told him 
aloud, he had something to say to him from my Lord 
Treasurer. He took out liis gold watch, and telling the 
time of day, complained that it was very late. A 
gentleman said he was too fast. ' How can I help 
it,' says the doctor, ' if the courtiers give me a watch 
that won't go right ? ' Then he instructed a young 
nobleman, that the best poet in England was Mr, Pope 
(a Papist), who had begun a translation of Homer into 
Enghsh, for which he would have them all subscribe ; 
' For,' says he, ' he shall not begin to i^rint till I have 
a thousand guineas for him.' ' Lord Treasurer, after 



1 " Swift must be allowed," says Dr. Johnson, " for a time, to have 
dictated the political opinions of the English nation." 

A conversation on the Dean's pamphlets excited one of the Doctor's 
liveliest sallies. " One, in particular, praised his ' Conduct of the Allies.' 
— Johnson : * Sir, his ' Conduct of the Allies ' is a performance of very- 
little ability Why, sir, Tom Davies might have written the 

' Conduct of the Allies ! ' " — Boswell's Life of Johnson. 



26 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

leaving tlie Queen, came through the room beckoning 
Dr. Swift to follow him, — both went off just before 
prayers." There's a little malice in the Bishop's "just 
before prayers." 

This picture of the great Dean seems a true one, and 
is harsh, though not altogether unpleasant. He was 
doing good, and to deserving men too, in the midst of 
these intrigues and triumphs. His journals and a 
thousand anecdotes of him relate his kind acts and 
rough manners. His hand was constantly stretched 
out to relieve an honest man — he was cautious about 
his money, but ready. — If you were in a strait would 
you lilce such a benefactor ? I think I would rather 
have had a potato and a friendly word from Goldsmith 
than have been beholden to the Dean for a guinea and 
a dinner.* He insulted a man as he served him, made 
women cry, guests look foohsh, bullied unlucky friends, 
and flung his benefactions into poor men's faces. No ; 



^ *' Whenever he fell into the company of any person for the first 
time, it was his custom to try their tempers and disposition by some 
abrupt question that bore the appearance of rudeness. If tiiis were 
well taken, and answered with good humour, he afterwards made 
amends by his civilities. But if he saw any marks of resentment, 
from alarmed pride, vanity, or conceit, he dropped all further inter- 
course with the party. This will be illustrated by an anecdote of that 
sort related by Mrs. Pilkington. After supper, the Dean having decanted 
a bottle of wine, poured what remained into a glass, and seeing it was 
muddy, presented it to Mr. Pilkington to drink it. * For, ' said he, 
* I always keep some poor parson to drink the foul wine for me.' Mr. 
Pilkington, entering into his humoui', thanked him, and told him ' he 
did not know the difference, but was glad to get a glass at any rate.' 



SWIFT. 27 

the Dean was no Irisliman — no Irishman ever gave 
but with a kind word and a kind heart. 

It is tokl, as if it were to Swift's credit, that the 
Dean of St. Patrick's performed his family devotions 
every morning regularly, but with such secresy, that 
the guests in his house were never in the least aware of 
the ceremony. There was no need surely why a church 
dignitary should assemble his family privily in a crjrpt, 
and as if he was afraid of heathen persecution. But I 
thinli: the world was right, and the bishops who advised 
Queen Anne, when they counselled her not to appoint 
the author of the " Tale of a Tub " to a bishopric, gave 
perfectly good advice. The man who wrote the argu- 
ments and illustrations in that wild book, could not but 
be aware what must be the sequel of the propositions 
which he laid down. The boon companion of Pope 
and Bolingbroke, who chose these as the friends of his 
life, and the recipients of his confidence and affection, 
must have heard many an argument, and joined in 
many a conversation over Pope's port, or St. John's 
Burgundy, which would not bear to be repeated at 
other men's boards. 



* why then,' said the Dean, ' you shan't, for I'll drink it myself. Why, 

take you, you are wiser than a paltry curate whom I asked to 

dine with me a few days ago ; for upon my making the same speech 
to him, he said, he did not understand such usage, and so walked off 
without his diunei\ By the same token, I told the gentleman who 
recommended him to me, that the fellow was a blockhead, and I had 
done with him." — Sheridan's Life of Sivift. 



28 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

I know of few things more conclusive as to the sin- 
cerity of Swift's religion than his advice to poor John 
Gay to turn clergyman, and look out for a seat on the 
Bench. Gay, the author of the " Beggar's Opera " — 
Gay, the wildest of the wits about town — it was this 
man that Jonathan Swift advised to take orders — to 
invest in a cassock and bands — just as he advised him 
to husband his shillings and put his thousand pounds 
out at interest.* The Queen, and the bishops, and 



^ FROM THE ARCHBISHOP OF CASHELL. 

"Cashell^MayZlst, 1735. 
"Dear Sir^, — 

" I have been so unfortunate in all my contests of late, that I 
am. resolved to have no more, especially v^here I am likely to be 
overmatched ; and as I have some reason to hope what is past will be 
forgotten, I confess I did endeavour in my last to put the best colour 
I could think of upon a very bad cause. My friends judge right of 
my idleness ; but, in reality, it has hitherto proceeded from a hurry 
and confusion, arising fi'om a thousand unlucky unforeseen accidents 
rather than mere sloth. I have but one troublesome affair now upon 
my hands, which, by the help of the prime serjeant, I hope soon to get 
rid of; and then you shall see me a true Irish bishop. Sir James 
Ware has made a very useful collection of the memorable actions of 
my predecessors. He tells me, they were born in such a town of 
England or Ireland ; were consecrated siich a year ; and, if not trans- 
lated, were buried in the Cathedral church, either on the north or 
south side. Whence I conclude, that a good bishop has nothing more 
to do than to eat, drink, grow fat, rich, and die; which laudable 
example I propose for the remainder of my life to follow ; for to tell 
you the truth, I have for these four or five years past met with so 
much treachery, baseness, and ingratitude among mankind, that I can 
hardly think it incumbent on any man to endeavour to do good to so 
perverse a generation. 

" I am truly concerned at the account you give me of your health. 
Without doubt a southern ramble will prove the best remedy you can 



SWIFT. 29 

the world, were right in mistrusting the religion of 
that man. 

I am not here, of course, to speak of any man's 
religious views, except in so far as they influence his 
literary character, his Hfe, his humour. The most 
notorious sinners of all those fellow-mortals whom it is 
our business to discuss — Harry Fielding and Dick 
Steele, were especially loud, and I believe really 
fervent, in their expressions of belief ; they belaboured 
freethinkers, and stoned imaginary atheists on all sorts 
of occasions, going out of their way to bawl their own 



take to recover your flesh ; and I do not know, except in one stage, 
where you can choose a road so suited to your circumstances, as from 
Dublin hither. You have to Kilkenny a turnpike and good inns, at 
every ten or twelve miles end. From Kilkenny hither is twenty long 
miles, bad road, and no inns at all : but I have an expedient for you. 
At the foot of a very high hill, just midway, there lives in a neat 
thatched cabin, a parson, who is not poor ; his wife is allowed to be 
the best little woman in the world. Her chickens are the fattest, and 
her ale the best in all the country. Besides, the parson has a little 
cellar of his own, of which he keeps the key, where he always has a 
hogshead of the best wine that can be got, in bottles well corked, upon 
their side ; and he cleans, and pulls out the cork better, I think, than 
Robin. Here I design to meet you with a coach ; if you be tired, you 
shall stay all night ; if not, after dinner we will set out about four, and 
be at Cashell by nine ; and by going through fields and by-ways, which 
the parson will show us, we shall escape all the rocky and stony roads 
that lie between this place and that, which are certainly very bad. I 
hope you will be so kind as to let me know a post or two before you 
set out, the very day you will be at Kilkenny, that I may have all 
things prepared for you. It may be, if you ask him. Cope will come : 
he will do nothing for me. Therefore, depending upon your positive 
promise, I shall add no more arguments to persuade you, and am, with 
the greatest truth, your most faithful and obedient servant, 

*'Theo. Cashell." 



30 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

creed, and persecute their neighbour's, and if thej^ 
sinned and stumbled, as they constantly did with debt, 
with drink, with all sorts of bad behaviour, they got up 
on their knees, and cried " Peccavi " with a most sono- 
rous orthodoxy. Yes ; poor Harry Fielding and poor 
Dick Steele were trusty and undoubting Church of 
England men ; they abhorred Popery, Atheism, and 
wooden shoes, and idolatries in general; and hiccupped 
Church and State with fervour. 

But Swift ? His mind had had a different schooling, 
and possessed a very different logical power. He was 
not bred up in a tipsy guard-room, and did not learn 
to reason in a Covent Garden tavern. He could con- 
duct an argument from beginning to end. He could 
see forward with a fatal clearness. In his old age, 
looking at the " Tale of a Tub," when he said, " Good 
God, what a genius I had when I wrote that book ! " I 
think he was admiring not the genius, but the conse- 
quences to which the genius had brought him — a vast 
genius, a magnificent genius, a genius wonderfully 
bright, and dazzlmg, and strong, — to seize, to know, 
to see, to flash upon falsehood and scorch it into per- 
dition, to penetrate into the hidden motives, and 
expose the black thoughts of men, — an awful, an evil 
spirit. 

Ah, man ! you, educated in Epicurean Temple's 
library, you whose friends were Pope and St. John — 
what made you to swear to fatal vows, and bind your- 



SWIFT. 31 

self to a life -long hypocrisy before the Heaven which 
you adored with such real wonder, humility, and 
reverence ? For Swift's was a reverent, was a pious 
spiiit — for Swift could love and could pray. Through 
the storms and tempests of his furious mind, the stars 
of religion and love break out in the blue, shinmg 
serenely, though hidden by the driving clouds and the 
maddened huiTicane of his life. 

It is my behef that he suffered frightfully from the 
consciousness of his own scepticism, and that he had 
bent his pride so far down as to put his apostasy out to 
hire.' The paper left behind him, called " Thoughts 
on Eeligion," is merely a set of excuses for not pro- 
fessing disbelief. He says of his sermons that he 
preached pamphlets : they have scarce a Christian 
characteristic ; they might be preached from the steps 
of a synagogue, or the floor of a mosque, or the box of 
a coffee-house almost. There is little or no cant — he 
is too gTeat and too proud for that ; and, in so far as 
the badness of his sermons goes, he is honest. But 
having put that cassock on, it poisoned him : he was 
strangled in his bands. He goes through life, tearing, 
like a man possessed with a devil. Like Abudah in 
the Arabian story, he is always looking out for the 



1 " Mr. Swift lived with liim [Sir William Temple] some time, but 
resolving to settle himself in some way of living, was inclined to take 
orders. However, although his fortune was veiy small, he had a 
scruple of entering into the Church merely for support." — Anecdotes of 
the Family of Swift, by the Dean. 



3:2 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

Fury, and knows that the night will come and the 
inevitable hag with it. What a night, my God, it 
was! what a lonely rage and long agony — what a 
vidture that tore the heart of that giant ! * It is 
awful to think of the great suffermgs of this great man. 
Through life he always seems alone, somehow. 
Goethe was so. I can't fancy Shakspeare otherwise. 
The giants must live apart. The kings can have no 
company. But this man suffered so ; and deserved so 
to suffer. One hardly reads anywhere of such a pain. 
The " sseva indignatio" of which he spoke as 
lacerating his heart, and wdiich he dares to inscribe 
on his tombstone — as if the wretch who lay under 
that stone waiting God's judgment had a right to be 
angry — breaks out from him in a thousand pages of 
his writing, and tears and rends him. Agamst men 
in office, he having been overthrown ; against men 
in England, he having lost his chance of preferment 
there, the furious exile never fails to rage and 
curse. Is it fair to call the famous "Drapier's Letters" 
patriotism ? They are master-pieces of dreadful 
humour and invective : they are reasoned logically 
enough too, but the proposition is as monstrous and 
fabulous as the Lilliputian island. It is not that the 



1 " Dr. Swift had a natural severity of face, which even his smiles 
could never soften, or his utmost gaiety render placid and serene ; but 
when that sternness of visage was increased by rage, it is scarce possible 
to imagine looks or features that carried in them more terror and 
austerity." — Orrery. 



SWIFT. 33 

grievance is so great, but there is liis enemy — tlie 
assault is wonderful for its activity and terrible rage. 
It is Samson, with a bone in his hand, rushing on his 
enemies and felling them : one admu'es not the cause 
so much as the strength, the anger, the fury of the 
champion. As is the case with madmen, certain 
subjects provoke him, and awaken his fits of wrath. 
Marriage is one of these ; in a hundred passages in his 
writings he rages against it ; rages against children 
— an object of constant satii'e, even more contemptible 
in his eyes than a lord's chaplain, is a poor curate with 
a large family. The idea of this luckless paternity 
never fails to bring down from him gibes and foul 
language. Could Dick Steele, or Goldsmith, or Fielding, 
in his most reckless moment of satire, have written 
anything like the Dean's famous " modest proposal " 
for eating children ? Not one of these but melts at 
the thoughts of childhood, fondles and caresses it. 
Mr. Dean has no such softness, and enters the nursery 
with the tread and gaiety of an ogre.* " I have been 
assured," says he in the " Modest Proposal," " by a 
very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, 
that a young healthy child, well-nursed, is, at a year 



1 "London, April 10th, 1713. 

" Lady Masham's eldest boy is very ill : I doubt he will not live, 

and she stays at Kensiiogton to nurse him, which vexes us all. She is 

so excessively fond, it makes me mad. She should never leave the 

Queen, but leave everything, to stick to what is so much the interest 

of the public, as well as her own." — Journal. 

D 



34 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

old, a most delicious, nourisliiiig, and wholesome 
food, wlietlier stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and 
I make, no doubt it will equally serve in a ragout.'* 
And taking up this pretty joke, as his way is, he 
argues it with perfect gravity and logic. He turns 
and twists this subject in a score of different 
ways : he hashes it; and he serves it up cold ; and 
he garnishes it ; and relishes it always. He describes 
the little animal as " dropped from its dam," advising 
that the mother should let it suck plentifully in 
the last month, so as to render it plump and fat for 
a good table! "A child," says his reverence, "will 
make two dishes at an entertainment for friends ; and 
when the family dines alone, the fore or hind-quarter 
will make a reasonable dish," and so on; and, the 
subject being so delightful that he can't leave it — he 
proceeds to recommend, in place of venison for squires' 
tables, "the bodies of young lads and maidens not 
exceeding fourteen nor under twelve." Amiable 
humourist ! laughing castigator of morals ! There was 
a process well known and practised in the Dean's gay 
days : when a lout entered the coffee-house, the wags 
proceeded to what they called " roasting " him. This 
is roasting a subject with a vengeance. The Dean had 
a native genius for it. As the " Almanach des 
Gourmands " says. On nait rotisseur. 

And it was not merely by the sarcastic method that 
Swift exposed the unreasonableness of loving and 



SWIFT. 35 

having cliildren. In Gulliver, the folly of love and 
marriage is urged by graver arguments and advice. In 
the famous Lilliputian kingdom, Swift speaks with 
approval of the practice of instantly removing children 
from their parents and educating them by the State ; 
and amongst his favourite horses, a pair of foals are 
stated to be the very utmost a well-regulated equine 
couple would permit themselves. In fact, our great 
satirist was of opinion that conjugal love was unad- 
visable, and illustrated the theory by his own practice 
and example — God help him — which made him about 
the most wretched being in God's world.' 

The grave and logical conduct of an absurd propo- 
sition, as exemplified in the cannibal proposal just 
mentioned, is our author's constant method through 
all his works of humour. Given a country of people 
six inches or sixty feet high, and by the mere process 
of the logic, a thousand wonderful absurdities are 
evolved, at so many stages of the calculation. Turning 
to the first minister who waited behind him with a wliite 
staff near as tall as the mainmast of the " Royal 
Sovereign," the king of Brobdingnag observes how 
contemptible a thing human grandeur is, as represented 
by such a contemptible little creature as Gulliver. 
" The Emperor of Lilliput's features are strong and 
masculine (what a surprising humour there is in this 



1 " My liealtli is somewhat mended, but at best I have an ill head 
and an aching heart." — In May, 1719. 



36 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

description !) — the Emperor's features," Gulliver says, 
" are strong and masculine, with an Austrian lip, an 
arched nose, his complexion olive, his countenance 
erect, his body and limbs well-proportioned, and his 
deportment majestic- He is taller hy the breadth of 
my nail than any of his court, which alone is enough 
to strike an awe into beholders." 

What a surprising humour there is in these descrip- 
tions ! How noble the satire is here ! how just and 
honest ! How perfect the image ! Mr. Macaulay has 
quoted the charming lines of the poet, where the king 
of the pigmies is measured by the same standard. We 
have all read in Milton of the spear that was like " the 
mast of some tall amiral," but these images are 
surely likely to come to the comic poet originally. 
The subject is before him. He is turning it in a 
thousand ways. He is full of it. The figure suggests 
itself naturally to him, and comes out of his subject, 
as in that wonderful passage, when Gulliver's box 
having been dropped by the eagle into the sea, and 
Gulliver having been received into the ship's cabin, 
he calls upon the crew to bring the box into the 
cabin, and put it on the table, the cabin being only 
a quarter the size of the box. It is the veracity of 
the blunder which is so admirable. Had a man come 
from such a country as Brobdingnag he would have 
blundered so. 

But the best stroke of humour, if there be a best 



SWIFT. 37 

in that abounding book, is tbat where Gulliver, in 

the unpronounceable country describes his parting 

from his master the horse.* "I took," he says, " a 



^ Perhaps the most melancholy satu*e in the whole of the dreadful book, 
is the description of the very old people in the Voyage to Laputa. At 
Lugnag, Gulliver hears of some persons who never die, called the 
Struldbrugs, and expressing a wish to become acquainted with men who 
mvist have so much learning and experience, his colloquist describes 
the Struldbrugs to him. 

" He said, They commonly acted like mortals, till about thirty years 
old, after which, by degrees, they grew melancholy and dejected, 
increasing in both till they came to fourscore. This he learned from their 
own confession : for otherwise there not being above two or three of that 
species born in an age, they were too few to form a general observation 
by. When they come to fourscore years, which is reckoned the 
extremity of living in this country, they had not only all the follies and 
infirmities of other old men, but many more, which arose from the 
prospect of never dying. They were not only opinionative, peevish, 
covetous, morose, vain, talkative, but incapable of friendship, and dead 
to all natural affection, which never descended below their grand- 
children. Envy and impotent desires are their prevailing passions. 
But those objects against which their envy seems principally directed, 
are the vices of the younger sort and the deaths of the old. By 
reflecting on the former, they find themselves cut off from all possibility 
of pleasure ; and whenever they see a funeral, they lament and repent 
that others are gone to a harbour of rest, to which they themselves 
never can hope to arrive. They have no remembrance of anything but 
what they learned and observed in tlieir youth and middle age, and 
even tbat is very imperfect. And for the truth or particulars of any 
fact, it is safer to depend on common tradition than upon their best 
recollections. The least miserable among them appear to be those 
who turn to dotage, and entirely lose their memories ; these meet with 
more pity and assistance, because they want many bad qualities which 
abound in others. 

" If a Struldbrug happened to marry one of his own kind, the marriage 
is dissolved of course, by the courtesy of the kingdom, as soon as the 
younger of the two comes to be fourscore. For the law thinks it to 
be a reasonable indulgence that those who are condemned, without any 



38 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

second leave of my master, but as I was going to pros- 
trate myself to kiss liis lioof, he did me the honour to 



fault of their own, to a perpetual continuance in the world, should not 
have their misery doubled by the load of a wife. 

"As soon as they have completed the term of eighty years, they are 
looked on as dead in law ; their heirs immediately succeed to their 
estates, only a small pittance is reserved for their support ; and the 
poor ones are maintained at tlie public charge. After that period, they 
are held incapable of any employment of trust or profit, they cannot 
purchase lands or take leases, neither are they allowed to be witnesses 
in any cause, either civil or criminal, not even for the decision of meers 
and bounds. 

"■ At ninety they lose their teeth and hair ; they have at that age 
no distinction of taste, but eat and drink whatever they can get without 
relish or appetite. The diseases they were subject to still continue, 
without increasing or diminishing. In talking, they forget the common 
appellation of things, and the names of persons, even of those who are 
their nearest friends and relatives. For the same reason, they can never 
amuse themselves with reading, because their memory will not serve to 
carry them from the beginning of a sentence to the end ; and by this 
defect they are deprived of the only entertainment whereof they might 
otherwise be capable. 

" The language of this country being always on the flux, the Struld- 
brugs of one age do not understand those of another ; neither are they 
able, after two hundred years, to hold any conversation (further than 
by a few general words) with their neighbours, the mortals ; and thus 
they lie vmder the disadvantage of living like foreigners in their own 
country. 

" This was the account given me of the Struldbrugs, as near as I can 
remember. I afterwards saw five or six of different ages, the youngest 
not above two hundred years old, who were brought to me several 
times by some of my friends ; but although they were told ' that I was 
a great traveller, and had seen all the world,' they had not the least 
curiosity to ask me a single question ; only desired I would give them 
slumskudask, or a token of remembrance ; which is a modest way of 
begging, to avoid the law that strictly forbids it, because they are 
provided for by the public, although indeed with a very scanty 
allowance. 

" They are despised and hated by all sorts of people ; when one of 



SWIFT. 39 

raise it gently to my mouth. I am not ignorant how 
much I have been censured for mentioning this last 
particular. Detractors are pleased to think it impro- 
bable that so illustrious a person should descend to 
give so great a mark of distinction to a creature so 
mferior as I. Neither am I ignorant how apt some 
travellers are to boast of extraordinary favours they 
have received. But if these censurers were better 
acquainted with the noble and courteous disposition 
of the Houyhnhnms they would soon change their 
opinion." 

The surprise here, the audacity of circumstantial 
evidence, the astounding gravity of the speaker, who is 
not ignorant how much he has been censured, the 
nature of the favour conferred, and the respectful 
exultation at the receipt of it, are surely complete ; it is 
truth topsy-turvy, entirely logical and absurd. 



them is born, it is reckoned ominous, and their birth is recorded very 
particularly ; so that you may know their age by consulting the register, 
which, however, has not been kept above a thousand years past, or at 
least has been destroyed by time or public disturbances. But the usual 
way of computing how old they are, is, by asking them what kings or 
great persons they can remember, and then consulting history ; for 
infallibly the last prince in their mind did not begin his reign after they 
were fourscore years old. 

" They were the most mortifying sight I ever beheld, and the 
women more horrible than the men ; besides the usual deformities in 
extreme old age, they acquired an additional ghastliness, in propoi'tion 
to their number of years, which is not to be described ; and among 
half a dozen, I soon distinguished which was the eldest, although 
thei'e was not above a century or two between them." — Gulliver's 
Travels. 



40 ENGLISH HUMOUEISTS. 

As for the humour and conduct of this famous fable, 
I suppose there is no person who reads but must 
admire ; as for the moral, I think it horrible, shameful, 
unmanly, blasphemous ; and giant and great as this Dean 
is, I say we should hoot him. Some of this audience 
majai't have read the last part of Gulliver, and to such 
I would recal the advice of the venerable Mr. Punch 
to persons about to marry, and say " Don't." 
"When Gulliver first lands among the Yahoos, the 
naked howling wretches clamber up trees and assault 
him, and he describes himself as " almost stifled with 
the filth which fell about him." The reader of the 
fourth part of Gulliver's Travels is hke the hero him- 
self in this instance. It is Yahoo language ; a monster 
gibbering shrieks, and gnashing imprecations against 
mankind, — tearing down all shreds of modesty, past all 
sense of manliness and shame; filthy in. word, filthy 
in thought, furious, raging, obscene. 

And dreadful it is to think that Swift knew the 
tendency of his creed — the fatal rocks towards which 
his logic desperately drifted. That last part of 
Gulliver is only a consequence of what has gone 
before; and the worthlessness of all mankind, the 
pettiness, cruelty, pride, imbecility, the general vanitj^, 
the foolish pretension, the mock greatness, tlie 
I)ompous dulness, the mean aims, the base suc- 
cesses, — all these were present to him ; it was with 
the din of these curses of the world, blasphemies 



SWIFT. 41 

against Heaven, shrieking in liis ears, that he began to 
\vTite his dreadful allegorj^, — of which the meaning is that 
man is utterly wicked, desperate, and imbecile, and his 
passions are so monstrous, and his boasted powers so 
mean, that he is and deserves to be the slave of brutes, 
and ignorance is better than his vaunted reason. What 
had this man done ? Avhat secret remorse was rank- 
ling at his heart ? what fever was boiling in him, that 
he should see all the world blood-shot ? AVe view the 
world with our own eyes, each of us ; and we make 
from within us the world we see. A weary heart gets 
no gladness out of sunshine ; a selfish man is sceptical 
about friendship, as a man with no ear doesn't care for 
music. A friaiitful self-consciousness it must have 

o 

been, which looked on mankind so darkly through those 
keen eyes of Swift. 

A remarkable story is told by Scott, of Delany, who 
interrupted Archbishop King and Swift in a conversa- 
tion which left tlie prelate in tears, and from which 
Swift rushed away with marks of strong terror and 
agitation in his countenance, upon which the arch- 
bishop said to Delany, "You have just met the most 
unhappy man on earth; but on the subject of his 
wretchedness you must never ask a question." 

The most unhappy man on earth ; — Miserrimus — 
what a character of him ! And at this time all the 
great wits of England had been at his feet. All 
Ireland had shouted after him, and worshipped as a 



42 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

liberator, a saviour, the greatest Irish patriot and 
citizen. Dean Drapier Bickerstaff Gulliver — the most 
famous statesmen, and the greatest poets of his day, 
had applauded him, and done him homage, and at this 
time writing over to Bolingbroke, from Ireland, he 
sajs, " It is time for me to have done with the world, 
and so I would if I could get into a better before I 
was called into the best, and not to die here in a rage, 
like a poisoned rat in a hole.'' 

We have spoken about the men, and Swift's behaviour 
to them ; and now it behoves us not to forget that 
there are certain other persons in the creation who had 
rather intimate relations with the great Dean.' Tw^o 
women whom he loved and injured are known by every 



^ The name of Varina has been thrown into the shade by those of 
the famous Stella and "Vanessa ; but she had a story of her own to 
tell about the blue eyes of young Jonathan. One may say that the 
book of Swift's Life opens at places kept by these blighted flowers ! 
Varina must have a paragraph. 

She was a Miss Jane Waryng, sister to a college chum of his. In 
1696, when Swift was nineteen years old, we find him writing a love- 
letter to her, beginning, " Impatience is the most inseparable quality of 
a lover." But absence made a great difference in his feelings ; so, four 
years afterwards, the tone is changed. He writes again, a very curious 
letter, offering to marry her, and putting the offer in such a way that 
nobody could possibly accept it. 

After dwelling on his poverty, &c., he says, conditionally, " I shall 
be blessed to have you in my arms, without regarding whether your 
person be beautiful, or your fortune large. Cleanliness in the first, and 
competency in the second, is all I ask for ! " 

The editors do not tell us what became of Varina in life. One 
would be glad to know that she met with some worthy partner, and 
lived long enough to see her little boys laughing over Lilliput, without 
any arriere jpensee of a sad character about the great Dean ! 



SWIFT. 43 

reader of books so familiarly that if we had seen them, 
or if they had been relatives of our own, we scarcely 
could have known them better. Who hasn't in his 
mind an image of Stella ? AVho does not love her ? 
Fair and tender creature : pure and affectionate heart ! 
Boots it to you now that you have been at rest for a 
hundred and twenty years, not divided in death from 
the cold heart which caused j^ours, whilst it beat, such 
faithful pangs of love and grief — boots it to jou now, 
that the whole world loves and deplores jon ? Scarce 
any man, I believe, ever thought of that grave, that 
did not cast a flower of pity on it, and write over it a 
sweet epitaph. Gentle lady ! — so lovely, so loving, 
so unhappy. You have had countless champions, 
millions of manly hearts mourning for you. From 
generation to generation we take up the fond tradition 
of your beauty ; we watch and follow your tragedy, 
your bright morning love and purity, your constancy, 
your grief, your sweet martyrdom. We know your 
legend by heart. You are one of the saints of 
English story. 

And if Stella's love and innocence is charming to 
contemplate, I will say that in spite of ill-usage, in 
spite of drawbacks, in spite of mysterious separation 
and union, of hope delayed and sickened heart — in the 
teeth of Vanessa, and that little episodical aberration 
which plunged Swift into such woeful pitfalls and 
quagmires of amorous perplexity — in spite of the 



44 ENGLISH HUMOUEISTS. 

verdicts of most women, I believe, who, as far as my 
experience and conversation goes, generally take 
Vanessa's part in the controversy — in spite of the tears 
which Swift caused Stella to shed, and the rocks and 
barriers which fate and temper interposed, and which 
prevented the pure course of that true love from run- 
ning smoothly ; the brightest part of Swift's story, the 
pure star in that dark and tempestuous life of Swift's, 
is his love for Hester Johnson. It has been my busi- 
ness, professionally of course, to go through- a deal of 
sentimental reading in my time, and to acquaint thj- 
self with love-making, as it has been described in 
various languages, and at various ages of the world ; 
and I know of nothing more manly, more tender, more 
exquisitely touching, than some of these brief notes, 
written in what Swift calls " his little language " in his 
journal to Stella.' He writes to her night and morning 
often. He never sends away a letter to her but he 
begins a new one on the same daj. He can't bear to 



^ A sentimental Champollion might find a good deal of matter for 
his art, in expounding the symbols of the " Little Language." Usually, 
Stella is " M.D.," but sometimes her companion, Mrs. Dingley, is 
included in it. Swift is "Presto;" also P.D.F.R. We have *' Good- 
night, M.D. ; Night, M.D. ; Little M.D. ; Stelhikins ; Pretty Stella; 
Dear roguish, impudent, pretty M.D. ! " Every now and then he breaks 
into rhyme, as — 

" I wish you both a merry new yeai". 
Roast beef, minced-pies, and good strong beer, 
And me a share of your good cheer, 
That I was there, as you were here, 
And you are a little saucy dear." 



SWIFT. 45 

let go lier kind little hand as it were. He knows that 
she is thinking of him, and longing for him far away 
in Dublin yonder. He takes her letters from under 
his i)illow and talks to them, familiarly, paternally, 
with fond epithets and pretty caresses — as he would to 
the sweet and artless creature who loved him. " Stay," 
he writes one morning — it is the 1-lth of December, 
1710 — " Stay, I will answer some of your letter this 
morning in bed — let me see. Come and appear little 
letter ! Here I am says he, and what say you to Stella 
this mornmg fresh and fasting ? And can Stella read 
tliis writing without hurting her dear eyes ? " he goes 
on, after more kind prattle and fond whispering. The 
dear eyes shine clearly upon him then — the good angel 
of his life is with him and blessing him. Ah, it was a 
hard fate that wrung from them so many tears, and 
stabbed pitilessly that pure and tender bosom. A 
hard fate : but would she have changed it ? I have 
heard a woman say that she would have taken Swift's 
cruelty to have had his tenderness. He had a sort of 
worship for her whilst he wounded her. He speaks of 
her after she is gone ; of her^ wit, of her kindness, of 
her grace, of her beauty, with a simple love and 
reverence that are indescribably touching; in con- 
templation of her goodness his hard heart melts into 
pathos : liis cold rhyme kindles and glows into poetry, 
and he falls down on his knees, so to speak, before the 
angel, whose life he had embittered, confesses his own 



46 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

wretchedness and unwortliiness, and adores her with 
cries of remorse and love : — 

" When on my sickly couch I lay, 
Impatient both of night and day, 
And groaning in unmanly strains, 
Called every power to ease my pains, 
Then Stella ran to my relief, 
With cheerful face and inward grief, 
And though by Heaven's severe decree 
She suffers hourly more than me, 
No cruel master could require 
From slaves employed for daily hire, 
What Stella, by her friendship warmed. 
With vigour and delight performed. 
Now, with a soft and silent tread. 
Unheard she moves about my bed : 
My sinking spirits now supplies 
With cordials in her hands and eyes. 
Best pattern of true friends ! beware ; 
You pay too dearly for your care 
If, while your tenderness secures 
My life, it must endanger yours : 
For such a fool was never found 
Who pulled a palace to the ground, 
Only to have the ruins made 
Materials for a house decayed." 

One little triumph Stella had in her life — one dear 
little piece of injustice was performed in her favour, for 
which I confess, for my part, I can't help thanking 
fate and the Dean. That other person was sacrificed 
to her — that — that young woman, who lived five doors 
from Dr. Swift's lodgings in Bmy-street, and who 
flattered him, and made love to him in such an 
outrageous manner — Vanessa was thrown over. 

Swift did not keep Stella's letters to him in reply to 



SWIFT. 47 

those lie wrote to her/ He kept BoUngbroke's, and 
Pope's, and Harley's, and Peterborough's : but Stella, 
"very carefully," the Lives say, kept Swift's. Of 



^ The following passages are from a paper begun by Swift on the 
evening of the day of her death, Jan. 28, 1727-8 : 

" She was sickly from her childhood, until about the age of fifteen ; 
but then she grew into perfect health, and was looked upon as one of 
the most beautiful, graceful, and agreeable young women in London — 
only a little too fat. Her hair was blacker than a raven, and every 
feature of her face in perfection. 

.... "Properly speaking" — he goes on with a calmness which, 
under the. circumstances, is terrible — "she has been dying six 
months!" 

" Never was any of her sex born with better gifts of the mind, or 

who more improved them by reading and conversation All of 

us who had the happiness of her friendship agreed unanimously that 
in an afternoon's or evening's conversation she never failed before we 
parted of delivering the best thing that was said in the company. 
Some of us have written down several of her sayings, or what the 
French call bons mots, wherein she excelled beyond belief" 

The specimens on record, however, in the Dean's paper called 
"Bons Mots de Stella," scarcely bear out this last part of the pane- 
gyric. But the following prove her wit : 

" A gentleman, who had been very silly and pei't in her company, at 
last began to grieve at remembering the loss of a child lately dead. A 
bishop sitting by comforted him — that he should be easy, because 
* the child was gone to heaven.' ' No, my lord,' said she ; ' that is it 
which most grieves him, because he is sure never to see his child 
there.' 

" When she was extremely ill, her physician said, ' Madam, you are 
near the bottom of the hill, but we will endeavour to get you up 
again.' She answered, ' Doctor, I fear I shall be out of breath before 
I get up to the top.' 

"A very dirty clergyman of her acquaintance, who affected smart- 
ness and repartees, was asked by some of the company how his nails 
came to be so dir-ty. He was at a loss ; but she solved the difficulty, 
by saying, ' the Doctor's nails grew dirty by scratching himself.' 

" A quaker apothecary sent her a vial, corked ; it had a broad 



48 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

course : that is tlie way of the world : and so we cannot 
tell what her stjde was, or of what sort were the little 
letters which the Doctor placed there at night, and 
bade to appear from under his pillow of a morning. 
But in Letter IV. of that famous collection he describes 
his lodging in Bury-street, where he has the first 
floor, a dining-room and bed-chamber, at eight shillings 
a-week ; and in Letter VI. he says " he has visited a 
lady just come to town," whose name somehow is not 
mentioned ; and in Letter VIII. he enters a query of 
Stella's — " What do you mean ' that boards near me, 
that I dine with now and then ? ' What the deuce ! 
You know whom I have dined with every day since I 
left you, better than I do." Of course she does. Of 
course Swift has not the slightest idea of what she 
means. But in a few letters more it turns out that the 
Doctor has been to dine " gravely " with a Mrs. 
Vanhomrigh : then that he has been to " his neigh- 
bour : " then that he has been unwell, and means to 
dine for the whole week with his neighbour ! Stella 
was quite right in her previsions. She saw from the 
very first hint what was going to happen ; and scented 
Vanessa in the air.^ The rival is at the Dean's feet. 



brim, and a label of paper about its neck. 'What is that ' — said she — 
' my apothecary's son !' The ridiculous resemblance, and the sudden- 
ness of the question, set us all a-laughiug," — Swift's Wo7'hs, Scott's Ed, 
vol. ix. 295-6. 

1 '* I am so hot and lazy after my morning's walk, that I loitered at 
Mrs. Vanhomrigh's, where my best gown and periwig was, and out of 



SWIFT. 49 

The pupil and teacher are reading together, and 
drinkmg tea together, and going to prayers together, 
and learning Latin together, and conjugating amo, 
amas, amavi together. The little language is over 
for poor Stella. By the rule of grammar and the course 
of conjugation, doesn't amavi come after amo and avias ? 
The loves of Cadenus and Vanessa' jou may peruse 
in Cadenus's o^^ti poem on the subject, and in poor 
Vanessa's vehement expostulatory verses and letters to 
him, she adores him, implores him, admires him, thinks 
liim something god-like, and onlj prays to be admitted 
to lie at his feet.^ As they are bringmg him home 



mere listlessness dine therCf very often; so I did to-day." — Journal to 
Stella. 

Mrs, Vanliomrigh, " Vanessa's " mother, was the widow of a Dutch 
merchant who held lucrative appointments in King William's time. 
The family settled in London in 1709, and had a house in Bury-street, 
St, James's — a street made notable by such residents as Swift and 
Steele ; and, in our own time, Moore and Crabbe, 

^ '' Vanessa was excessively vain. The character given of her by 
Cadenus is fine painting, but in general fictitious. She was fond of 
dress ; impatient to be admired ; very romantic in her turn of mind ; 
sviperior, in her own opinion, to all her sex ; full of pertness, gaiety, 
and pride ; not without some agreeable accomplishments, but far from 

being either beautiful or genteel; happy in the thoughts of 

being reported Swift's concubine, but still aiming and intending to be 
his wife," — Lord Orrery. 

- " You bid me be easy, and you would see me as often as you could. 
You had better have said, as often as you can get the better of your 
inclinations so much ; or as often as you remember there was such 
a one in the world. If you continue to treat me as you do, you will 
not be made uneasy by me long. It is impossible to describe what I 
have suffered since I saw you last : I am siu-e I could have borne the 
rack much better than those killing, kilhng words of yours. Some- 

E 



50 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

from cliurcli, those divine feet of Dr. Swift's are 
found pretty often in Vanessa's parlour. He likes 
to be admired and adored. He finds Miss Van- 
liomrigli to be a woman of great taste and spirit, 
and beauty and wit, and a fortune too. He sees 
her every day; he does not tell Stella about the 
business : until the impetuous Vanessa becomes too 
fond of him, until the doctor is quite frightened by the 
young woman's ardour, and confounded by her warmth. 
He wanted to marry neither of them — that I believe 
was the truth; but if he had not married Stella, Vanessa 
would have had him in spite of himself. When he 
went back to Ireland, his Ariadne, not content to 
remain in her isle, pursued the fugitive Dean. In vain 
he protested, he vowed, he soothed and bullied ; the 
news of the Dean's marriage with Stella at last came 
to her, and it killed her — she died of that passion.^ 



times I have resolved to die without seeing you more; but those 
resolves, to your misfortune, did not last long; for there is something 
in human nature that prompts one so to find relief in this world I 
must give way to it, and beg you would see me, and speak kindly to me; 
for I am sure you'd not condemn any one to suffer what I have done, 
could you but know it. The reason I write to you is, because I 
cannot tell it to you, should I see you ; for when I begin to complain, 
then you are angry, and there is something in your looks so awful 
that it strikes me dumb. Oh that you may have but so much regard 
for me left that this complamt may touch your soul with pity. I say 
as little as ever I can ; did you but know what I thought, I am sure 
it would move you to forgive me ; and believe I cannot help telling 
you this and live." — Vanessa. (M. 1714.) 

1 " If we consider Swift's behaviour, so far only as it relates to 



SWIFT. 5 1 

And when she died, and Stella heard that Swift 
had written beautifullj^ regarding her, "that doesn't 



women, we shall find that he looked upon them rather as busts than 
as whole figures." — Orrery. 

" You must have smiled to have found his house a constant 
seraglio of very virtuous women, who attended him from morning to 
night." — Orrery. 

A correspondent of Sir "Walter Scott's furnished him with the 
materials on which to found the following interesting passage about 
Vanessa — after she had retired to cherish her passion in retreat: — 

" Marley Abbey, near Celbridge, where Miss Vanhomrigh resided, is 
built much in the form of a real cloister, especially in its external 
appearance. An aged man (upwards of ninety, by his own account) 
showed the grounds to my correspondent. He was the son of Mrs. 
Vanhomrigh's gardener, and used to work with his father in the 
garden while a boy. He remembered the unfortunate Vanessa well ; 
and his accoimt of her corresponded with the usual description of her 
person, especially as to her embonpoint. He said she went seldom 
abroad, and saw little company : her constant amusement was reading, 

or walking in the garden She avoided company, and was 

always melancholy, save when Dean Swift was there, and then she 
seemed happy. The garden was to an uncommon degree crowded 
with laurels. The old man said that when Miss Vanhomrigh expected 
the Dean she always planted with her own hand a laurel or two 
against his arrival. He showed her favourite seat, still called 
'Vanessa's bower.' Three or four trees and some laurels indicate 

the spot There were two seats and a rude table within the 

bower, the opening of which commanded a view of the Lifiey 

In this sequestered spot, according to the old gardener's account, the 
Dean and Vanessa used often to sit, with books and writing materials 
on the table before them." — Scott's Swift, vol. i. pp. 246-7. 

.... "But Miss Vanhomrigh, irritated at the situation in which 
she found herself, determined on bringing to a crisis those expectations 
of a union with the object of her affections — to the hope of which 
she had clung amid every vicissitude of his conduct towards her. 
The most probable bar was his undefined connection with Mrs. 
Johnson, which, as it must have been perfectly known to her, had, 
doubtless, long elicited her secret jealousy, although only a single 

E 2 



52 EI^GLISH HUMOUKISTS. 

surprise me," said Mrs. Stella, " for we all know the 
Dean could write beautifully about a broomstick." A 
woman — a true woman ! Would you have had one of 
them forgive the other ? 

In a note in his biography, Scott says that his friend 
Dr. Tuke, of Dublin, has a lock of Stella's hair, 
enclosed in a paper by Swift, on which are written in 



hint to that purpose is to be found in their correspondence, and that 
so early as 1713, when she writes to him — then in Ireland — 'If you 
are very happy, it is ill-natured of you not to tell me so, except 'tis 
what is inconsistent with mine.' Her silence and patience under this 
state of imcertainty for no less than eight years, must have been 
partly owing to her awe for Swift, and partly, perhaps, to the weak 
state of her rival's health, which, from year to year, seemed to 
announce speedy dissolution. At length, however, Vanessa's impa- 
tience prevailed, and she ventured on the decisive step of writing to 
Mrs. Johnson herself, requesting to know the nature of that connec- 
tion. Stella, in reply, informed her of her marriage with the Dean ; 
and full of the highest resentment against Swift for having given 
another female such a right in him as Miss Vanhomrigh's inquiries 
implied, she sent to him her i-ival's letter of interrogatories, and, 
without seeing him, or awaiting his reply, retired to the house of 
Mr. Ford, near Dublin. Every reader knows the consequence. 
Swift, in one of those paroxysms of fury to which he was liable, 
both from temper and disease, rode instantly to Marley Abbey. As 
he entered the apartment, the sternness of his countenance, which 
was peculiarly formed to express the fiercer passions, struck the 
unfortunate Vanessa with such terror that she could scarce ask 
whether he would not sit down. He answered by flinging a letter 
on the table, and, instantly leaving the house, remounted his horse, 
and returned to Dublin. When Vanessa opened the packet, she only 
found her own letter to Stella. It was her death warrant. She sunk 
at once under the disappointment of the delayed, yet cherished 
hopes which had so long sickened her heart, and beneath the 
unrestrained wrath of him for whose sake she had indulged them. 
How long she survived the last interview is uncertain, but the time 
does not seem to have exceeded a few weeks." — Scott. 



SWIFT. 53 

tlie Dean's hand, the words : " Only a icomaiis hairy 
An instance, says Scott, of the Dean's desire to veil 
his feelings under the mask of cjmical mdiiference. 

See the various notions of critics ! Do those words 
indicate indifference or an attempt to hide feeling? 
Did you ever hear or read four words more pathetic ? 
Only a woman's haii', only love, only fidelity, only 
purity, innocence, beauty ; only the tenderest heart in 
the world stricken and wounded, and passed awa}^ 
now out of reach of pangs of hope deferred, love 
insulted, and pitiless desertion ; — only that lock of hair 
left : and memory and remorse, for the guilty, lonely 
wretch, shuddering over the grave of his victim. 

And yet to have had so much love, he must have given 
some. Treasures of wit and wisdom and tenderness, 
too, must that man have had locked up in the caverns 
of his gloomy heart, and shown fitfully to one or two 
whom he took in there. But it was not good to visit 
that place. People did not remain there long, and 
suffered for having been there. ^ He shrank away from 
all affections sooner or later. Stella and Vanessa both 
died near liim, and away from him. He had not heart 



^ "M. Swift est Eabelais dans son bon sens, et vivant en bonne 
compagnie. II n'a pas, ^ la verite, la gaite du premier, mais il a toute 
la finesse, la raison, le chois, le bon gout qui manquent b; notre cui-e de 
Meudon. Ses vers sont d'un gout singulier, et presque inimitable ; la 
bonne plaisanterie est son partage en vers et en prose ; mais pour le 
bien en tendre il faut faii'e un petit voyage dans son pays." — Voltaire, 
Lettres sur les Anglais. Let. 22. 



54 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

enough to see them die. He broke from his fastest 
friend, Sheridan ; he shmk away from his fondest 
admirer, Pope. His laugh jars on one's ear after seven 
score years. He was always alone — alone and gnash- 
ing in the darkness, except when Stella's sweet smile 
came and shone upon him. When that went, silence 
and utter night closed over him. An immense genius : 
an awful downfall and ruin. So great a man he seems 
to me, that thinldng of him is like thinkmg of an 
empire falhng. We have other great names to mention 
— none I think, however, so great or so gloomy. 



LECTURE THE SECOND. 



CON'GREVE AND ADDISON". 

A GREAT number of years ago, before the passing of 
the Reform Bill, there existed at Cambridge a certain 
debating club, called the " Union," and I remember that 
there was a tradition amongst the undergraduates who 
frequented that renowned school of oratory, that the 
great leaders of the Opposition and Government had 
their eyes upon the University Debating Club, and that 
if a man distinguished himself there he ran some 
chance of being returned to Parliament as a great 
nobleman's nominee. So Jones of John's, or Thomson 
of Trinity, would rise in their might, and draping them- 
selves in their gowns, rally^ round the monarchy, or 
hurl defiance at priests and kings with the majesty of 
Pitt or the fire of Mirabeau, fancying all the while that 
the great nobleman's emissary was Hstening to the 
debate from the back benches, where he was sitting 
with the family seat in his pocket. Indeed, the legend 
said that one or two young Cambridge -men, orators of 



56 EI^GLISH HUMOUKISTS. 

the Union, were actually caught up thence, and carried 
down to Cornwall or old Sarum, and so into Parliament. 
And many a young fellow deserted the jogtrot Uni- 
versity curriculum, to hang on in the dust behind the 
fervid wheels of the parliamentary chariot. 

Where, I have often wondered, were the sons of peers 
and members of Parliament in Anne's and George's 
time ? Were they all in the army, or hunting in the 
country, or boxing the watch ? How was it that the 
young gentlemen from the University got such a pro- 
digious number of places ? A lad composed a neat 
copy of verses at Christchurch or Trinity, in which the 
death of a great personage was bemoaned, the French 
king assailed, the Dutch or Prince Eugene compli- 
mented, or the reverse ; and the party in power was 
presently to provide for the young poet ; and a com- 
missionership, or a post in the Stamps, or the secretary- 
ship of an embassy, or a clerkship in the Treasury, 
came into the bard's possession. A wonderful fruit- 
bearing rod was that of Busby's. What have men of 
letters got in our time ? Think, not only of Swift, a 
king fit to rule in any time an empire — but Addison, 
Steele, Prior, Tickell, Congreve, John Gay, John 
Dennis, and many others who got pubhc employment, 
and pretty little i^ickings out of the public purse.* The 



^ The following is a conspectus of them : — 
Addison. — Commissioner of Appeals ; Under Secretary of State ; 
Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland; Keeper 



co:n'greve and addisox. 57 

wits of whose names we shall treat in this lecture and 
two following, all (save one) touched the King's coin, 
and had, at some period of their lives, a happy quarter- 
day coming round for them. 

They all began at school or college in the regular 
way, producing panegyrics upon public characters, what 
were called odes upon public events, battles, sieges, 
court marriages and deaths, in which the gods of 
Olympus and the tragic muse were fatigued with invo- 
cations, according to the fashion of the time in France 
and in England. Aid us Mars, Bacchus, Apollo, cried 
Addison, or Congreve, singing of William or Marl- 
borough. "Accourez, chastes nyinphes de Permesse,'' says 
Boileau, celebrating the Grand Monarch. " Des sons 



of the Records in Ireland ; Lord of Trade ; and one of 
the Principal Secretaries of State, successively. 

Steele. — Commissioner of the Stamp Office ; Surveyor of the Royal 
Stables at Hampton Coui-t ; and Governor of the Royal 
Company of Comedians ; Commissioner of " Forfeited 
Estates in Scotland." 

Prior. — Secretary to the Embassy at the Hague ; Gentleman of the 
Bedchamber to King William ; Secretary to the Embassy 
in France ; Under Secretary of State ; Ambassador to 
France. 

TiCKELL. — Under Secretary of State"; Secretary to the Lords Justices 
of Ireland. 

Congreve. — Commissioner for licensing Hackney Coaches ; Commis- 
sioner for Wine Licenses ; Place in the Pipe Office ; post 
in the Custom House ; Secretary of Jamaica, 

Gay. — Secretary to the Earl of Clarendon (when Ambassador to 
Hanover.) 

John Dennis. — A place in the Custom House. 

"En Angleterre les lettres sent plus en honneur qu'ici." 

— Voltaire, Lettres sw les Anglais, Let. 20. 



58 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

que ma lyre enfante, marquez en bien la cadence, et vous, 
vents, faites silence ! je vais parler cle Louis /" School- 
boys' themes and foundation-exercises are the only 
relics left now of this scholastic fashion. The Olym- 
pians are left quite undisturbed in their mountain. 
What man of note, what contributor to the poetry of a 
country newspaper, would now think of writing a con- 
gratulatory ode on the birth of the heir to a dukedom, 
or the marriage of a nobleman ? In the xDast century 
the young gentlemen of the Universities all exercised 
themselves at these queer compositions ; and some got 
fame, and some gained patrons and places for life, and 
many more took nothing by these efforts of what they 
were pleased to call their muses. 

WilHam Congreve's ' Pindaric Odes are still to be 
found m " Johnson's Poets," that now unfrequented 
poet's corner, in which so many forgotten big- wigs have 
a niche — but though he was also voted to be one of the 
greatest tragic poets of any day, it was Congreve's wit 
and humour which first recommended him to courtly 
fortune. And it is recorded, that his first play, the 
" Old Bachelor," brought our author to the notice of 
that great patron of the English muses, Charles 
Montague Lord Halifax, who being desirous to place 
so eminent a wit in a state of ease and tranquillity, 



1 He was the son of Colonel William Congreve, and grandson of 
Richard Congreve, Esq., of Congreve and Stretton in Staffordshire — a 
very ancient family. 



CONGEEVE AND ADDISON. 59 

instantly made liim one of the commissioners for 
licensing hackney-coaches, bestowed on him soon after 
a place in the Pipe-office, and likewise a post in the 
Custom-house of the value of 600Z. 

A commissionership of hackney-coaches — a post m 
the Custom-house — a place in the Pipe-office, and all 
for writing a comedy ! Doesn't it sound like a fable, 
that place m the Pipe -office ? ^ Ah, I'heureux temps 
que celui de ces fables ! Men of letters there still be : 
but I doubt whether any pipe-offices are left. The 
public has smoked them long ago. 

Words, like men, pass current for a while mth the 
pubhc, and being known everywhere abroad, at length 
take their places in society ; so even the most secluded 
and refined ladies here present will have heard the 
phrase from their sons or brothers at school, and will 



^ " Pipe, — Pipe, in law, is a roll in the Exchequer, called also the 
great roll. 

" 'PiFE-Office is an ofi&ce in which a person called the Clerk of the Pipe 
makes out leases of crown lands, by warrant, from the Lord-Treasurer, 
or Commissioners of the Treasury, or Chancellor of the Exchequer. 

" Clerk of the Pipe makes up all accounts of sheriffs, &c." — Rees. 
Cyclopcecl. Art. Pipe. 

*' PiPE-Q/^ce. — Spelman thinks so called because the papers were kept 
in a large pipe or cask." 

" These be at last brought into that office of Her Majesty's Exchequer, 

which we, by a metaphor, do call the pii^e because the whole 

receipt is finally conveyed into it by means of divers small pipes or 
quills." — Bacon. The Office of Alienations. 

[We are indebted to Richardson's Dictionary for this fragment of 
erudition. But a modern man-of-letters can know little on these 
points, by — experience.] 



60 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

permit me to call William Congreve, Esquire, the most 
eminent literary " swell " of his age. In my copy of 
" Johnson's Lives " Congreve's wig is the tallest, and 
put on with the jauntiest air of all the laurelled 
worthies. " I am the great Mr. Congreve," he seems 
to say, looking out from his voluminous curls. People 
called him the great Mr. Congreve.' From the begin- 
ning of his career until the end everybody admired himc 
Having got his education in Ireland, at the same school 
and college with Swift ; he came to live m the Middle 
Temple, London, where he luckily bestowed no atten- 
tion to the law ; but splendidly frequented the coffee- 
houses and theatres, and appeared in the side-box, the 
tavern, the Piazza and the Mall, brilliant, beautiful, 
and victorious from the first. Everybody acknowledged 
the young chieftain. The great Mr. Dryden ' declared 



^ " It has been observed that no change of ministers affected bim in 
the least, nor was he ever removed from any post that was given to 
him, except to a better. His place in the Custom-House, and his office 
of Secretary in Jamaica, are said to have brought him in upwards of 
twelve hundred a year." — Biog. Brit., Art. Congreve. 

2 Dryden addressed his " twelfth epistle " to " My dear friend Mr. 
Congreve," on hia comedy called the " Double Dealer," in which he 
says — 

" Great Jonson did by strength of judgment please; 

Yet, doubling Fletcher's force, he wants his ease. 

In differing talents both adorn'd their age ; 

One for the study, t'other for the stage. 

But both to Congreve justly shall submit, 

One match'd in judgment, both o'ermatched in wit. 

In him all beauties of this age we see," &c., &c. 

The "Double Dealer," however, was not so palpable a hit as the 



CONGREVE A^T) ADDISOK 61 

that he was equal to Shakspeare, and bequeathed to 
hhn his own undisputed poetical crown, and writes of 
him, " Mr. Congreve has done me the favour to review 
the *^neis,' and compare my version with the origmal. 
I shall never be ashamed to own that this excellent 
young man has showed me many faults wliich I have 
endeavoured to correct." 

The "excellent young man" was but three or four- 
and-twenty when the great Dryden thus spoke of him : 
the greatest literary chief in England, the veteran 
field-marshal of letters, himself the marked man of all 
Europe, and the centre of a school of wits, who daily 
gathered round his chair and tobacco-pipe at Wills'. 
Pope dedicated his "Iliad" to him; ' Swift, Addison, 



" Old Bachelor," but, at first, met with opposition. The critics having 
fallen foul of it, our "Swell " applied the scourge to that presumj^tuous 
body, in the "Epistle Dedicatory" to the " Right Honourable Charles 
Montague." 

" I was conscious," said he, " where a true critic might have put me 

upon my defence. I was prepared for the attack, but I have 

not heard anything said sufficient to provoke an answer." He goes on — 

" But there is one thing at which I am more concerned than all the 
false criticisms that are made upon me ; and that is, some of the ladies 
are offended. I am heartily sorry for it ; for I declai'e, I would rather 
disoblige all the critics in the world than one of the fair sex. They 
are concerned that I have represented some women vicious and 
affected. How can I help it 1 It is the business of a comic poet to 

paint the vices and follies of human kind I should be very 

glad of an opportunity to make my compliments to those ladies who 
are offended. But they can no more expect it in a comedy, than to be 
tickled by a surgeon when he is letting their blood." 

' " Instead of endeavouring to raise a vain monument to myself, let 
me leave behind me a memorial of my friendship, with one of the most 



62 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 



Steele, all acknowledge Congreve's rank, and lavish 
compliments upon him. Voltaire went to wait upon 
him as on one of the Eepresentatives of Literature — 
and the man who scarce praises any other living person, 
who flung abuse at Pope, and Swift, and Steele, and 
Addison, — the Grub-street Timon, old John Dennis,* 
was hat in hand to Mr. Congreve ; and said, that when 
he retired from the stage, Comedy went with him. 

Nor was he less victorious elsewhere. He was admired 
in the drawing-rooms as well as the coffee-houses ; as 
much beloved in the side-box as on the stage. He 
loved, and conquered, and jilted the beautiful Brace- 
girdle,^ the heroine of all his plays, the favourite of all 
the town of her day — and the Duchess of Marlborough, 



valuable men as well as finest writers of my age and country — one who 
has tried, and knows by his own experience, how hard an undertaking 
it is to do justice to Homer — and one who, I am sure, seriously 
rejoices with me at the period of my labours. To him, therefore, 
having brought this long work to a conclusion, I desire to dedicate it, 
and to have the honour and satisfaction of placing together in this 
manner the names of Mr. Congreve and of — A. Pope." Postscript to 
Translation of the Iliad of Homer. Mar. 25, 1720. 

^ "When asked why he listened to the praises of Dennis, he said, he 
had much rather be flattered than abused. Swift had a particular 
friendship for our author, and generally took him under his protec- 
tion in his high authoritative manner." — Thos, Davies. Dramatic 
Miscellanies, 

2 " Congreve was very intimate for years with Mrs. Bracegirdlc, and 
lived in the same street, his house very near hers, until his acquaint- 
ance with the young Duchess of Marlborough. He then quitted that 
house. The Duchess showed us a diamond necklace (which Lady Di. 
used afterwards to wear) that cost seven thousand pounds, and was 
purchased with the money Congreve left her. How much better 



CONGREVE AN^D ADDISON". 63 

Marlborough's daughter, had such an admiration of him, 
that when he died she had an ivory figure made to imi- 
tate him,^ and a large wax doll with gouty feet to be 
dressed just as the great Congreve's gouty feet were 
dressed in his great lifetime. He saved some money 
by his Pipe-office, and his Custom-house office, and 
his Hackney-coach office, and nobly left it, not to 
Bracegirdle, who wanted it," but to the Duchess of 
Marlborough, who didn't.' 



would it liave been to have given it to poor Mrs. Bracegirdle." — Dr. 
Young, Spences A necclotes. 

1 "A glass was put in the hand of the statue, which was supposed to 
bow to her Grace and to nod in approbation of what she spoke to it." — 
Thos. Davies. Dramatic Miscellanies. 

2 The sum Congreve left her was 200Z., as is said in the " Dramatic 
Miscellanies" of Tom Davies; where are some particulars about this 
charming actress and beautiful woman. 

She had a "lively aspect," says Tom, on the authority of Gibber, 
and ''such a glow of health and cheerfulness in her countenance, as 
inspired eveiybod}^ with desire." "Scarce an audience saw her that 
were not half of them her lovers." 

Congreve and Rowe courted her in the persons of their lovers. " In 

Tamerlane, Rowe courted her Selima, in the person of Axalla ; 

Congreve insinuated his addresses in his Valentine to her Angelica, in 
his 'Love for Love;' in his Osmyn to lier Almena, in the 'Mourning 
Bride;' and, lastly, in his Mirabel to her Millamant, in the 'Way of 
the World.' Mirabel, the fine gentleman of the play, is, I believe, not 
veiy distant from the real character of Congreve." — Dramatic Mis- 
cellanies, vol. iii. 1784. 

She retired from the stage when Mrs. Oldfield began to be the public 
favourite. She died in 1748, in the eighty-fifth year of her age. 

3 Johnson calls his legacy the "accumulation of attentive parsi- 
mony, which," he continues, " though to her (the Duchess) superfluous 
and useless, might have given great assistance to the ancient family 
from which he descended, at that time, by the imprudence of his 
relation, reduced to difficulties and distress." — Lives of the Poets. 



64 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

How can I introduce to you that merry and shame- 
less Comic Muse who won him such a reputation ? Nell 
Gwynn's servant fought the other footmen for having 
called his mistress a bad name ; and in like manner, 
and with pretty like epithets, Jeremy Collier attacked 
that godless, reckless Jezebel, the English comedy of 
his time, and called her what Nell Gwynn's man's 
fellow- servants called Nell Gwynn's man's mistress. 
The servants of the theatre, Dryden, Congreve,' and 
others, defended themselves with the same success, and 
for the same cause which set Nell's lackey fighting. She 
was a disreputable, daring, laughing, painted French 
baggage, that Comic Muse. She came over from the 
continent with Charles (who chose many more of his 



^ He replied to Colliei*, in the pamplilet called "Amendments of 
Mr. Collier's False aud Imperfect Citations," &c. A specimen or two 
are subjoined : — 

" The greater part of these examples which he has produced, are 
only demonstrations of his own impurity : they only savour of his 
utterance, and were sweet enough till tainted by his breath. 

" Where the expression is unblameable in its own pure and genuine 
signification, he enters into it, himself, like the evil spirit ; he possesses 
the innocent phrase, aud makes it bellow forth his own blasphemies. 

" If I do not return him civilities in calling him names, it is because 

I am not very well versed in his nomenclatures I will only 

call him Mr. Collier, and that I will call him as often as I think he 
shall deserve it, 

" The corruption of a rotten divine is the generation of a sour 
critic." 

"Congreve," says Dr. Johnson, "a very young man, elated with 
success, and impatient of censure, assumed an air of confidence and 

security The dispute was protracted through two years ; but 

at last Comedy grew more modest, and Collier lived to see the reward 
of his labours in the reformation of the theatre." — Life of Couyreve. 



CON'GEEVE AND ADDISOI^. 65 

female friends there) at the Eestoration — a wild, 
dishevelled Lais, with eyes bright with wit and wine — 
a saucy court -favourite that sate at the King's knees, 
and laughed in his face, and when she showed her bold 
cheeks at her chariot-window, had some of the noblest 
and most famous people of the land bowing round her 
wheel. She was kind and popular enough, that daring 
Comedy, that audacious poor Nell — she was gay and 
generous, kind, frank, as such people can afford to be : 
and the men who lived with her and laughed with her, 
took her pay and drank her mne, turned out when the 
Puritans hooted her, to fight and defend her. But the 
jade was indefensible, and it is pretty certain her 
servants knew it. 

There is life and death going on in every thing: 
truth and lies always at battle. Pleasure is always 
warring against self-restraint. Doubt is always crying 
Psha, and sneering. A man in life^ a humourist in 
writing about life, sways over to one prmciple or the 
other, and laughs with the reverence for right and the 
love of truth in his heart, or laughs at these from the 
other side. Didn't I tell you that dancing was a serious 
business to Harlequin ? I have read two or three of 
Congreve's plays over before speaking of him ; and my 
feehngs were rather like those, which I daresay most 
of us here have had, at Pompeii, looking at Sallust's 
house and the rehcs of an orgy, a dried wine -jar or 
two, a charred supper -table, the breast of a dancing 



66 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

girl pressed against the ashes, the laughing skuU of a 
jester, a perfect stillness round ahout, as the Cicerone 
twangs his moral, and the hlue sky shines calmly over 
the ruin. The Congreve muse is dead, and her song 
choked in Time's ashes. Vi'e gaze at the skeleton, 
and wonder at the life which once revelled in its mad 
veins. We take the skull up, and muse over the frolic 
and dai'ing, the wit, scorn, passion, hope, desii'e, with 
which that empty howl once fermented. We think of 
the glances that allui'ed, the teai's that melted, of 
the hright eyes that shone in those vacant sockets ; 
and of lips whispeiing love, and cheeks dimpling with 
smiles, that once covered yon ghastly yellow frame- 
work. They used to call those teeth pearls once. 
See ! there's the cup she di'ank fi'om, the gold-chain 
she wore on her neck, the vase which held the rouge 
for her cheeks, her looking-glass, and the hai'p she 
used to dance to. Instead of a feast we find a gi*ave- 
stone, and in place of a misti'ess, a few bones ! 

Reading in these plays now, is like shuttiug your 
eai's and looking at people dancing. "VMiat does it 
mean ? the measiu'es, the gi'imaces, the bowing, 
shuffling and retreating, the cavaher seul advancing 
upon those ladies — those ladies and men twii'ling 
round at the end in a mad galop, after which ever^'body 
bows and the quaint rite is celebrated. Without the 
music we can't understand that comic dance of the 
last centmy — its strange gi-avity and gaiety, its deconim 



COXGREYE AND ADDISON. 67 

or its indecorum. It has a jargon of its own quite 
unlilvG life ; a sort of moral of its own quite unlike life 
too. I'm afraid it's a Heathen mystery, symbohsmg a 
Pagan doctrine ; protesting, as the Pompeians very 
likely were, assembled at their theatre and laughing 
at theii' games — as Sallust and his friends, and their 
mistresses protested — crowned with flowers, with cups 
in theii* hands, against the new, hard, ascetic pleasure - 
hatmg doctrine, whose gaunt disciples, lately passed 
over from the Asian shores of the Mediterranean were 
for breaking the fair images of "Venus, and flinging the 
altars of Bacchus down. 

I fancy poor CongTeve's theatre is a temple of Pagan 
dehghts, and mysteries not permitted except among 
heathens. I fear the theatre carries down that ancient 
tradition and worsliip, as masons have carried their 
secret signs and rites from temple to temple, \\lien 
the libertine hero carries off the beauty in the play, and 
the dotard is laughed to scorn for ha'sdng the young wife : 
in the ballad, when the poet bid his mistress to gather 
roses while she may, and warns her that old Time is still 
a-fl3ing : in the ballet, when honest Corj-don com'ts 
Phillis under the treillage of the pasteboard cottage, 
and leers at her over the head of grandpapa in red 
stockings, who is opportunely asleep ; and when 
seduced by the invitations of the rosy youth she comes 
forward to the foothghts, and they perform on each 
other's tiptoes that pas which you all know and which 

F 2 



68 ENGLISH HUMOUEISTS. 

is only interrupted by old grandpapa awaking from his 
doze at the pasteboard chalet (whither he returns to 
take another nap in case the young people get an 
encore) : when Harlequin, splendid in youth, strength 
and agility, arrayed in gold and a thousand colours, 
springs over the heads of countless perils, leaps down 
the throat of bewildered giants, and, dauntless and 
splendid, dances danger down : when Mr. Punch, that 
godless old rebel, breaks every law and laughs at it 
with odious triumph, outwits his lawyer, bullies the 
beadle, knocks his wife about the head, and hangs the 
hangman, — don't you see in the comedy, in the song, 
in the dance, in the ragged little Punch's puppet-show, 
— the Pagan protest ? Doesn't it seem as if Life puts 
in its plea and sings its comment ? Look how the 
lovers walk and hold each other's hands and whisper ! 
Sings the chorus — "There is nothing like love, there is 
nothing like youth, there is nothing like beauty of 
your spring time. Look ! how old age tries to meddle 
with merry sport ! Beat him with his own crutch, the 
wrinkled old dotard ! There is nothing like j^outh, 
there is nothing like beauty, there is nothing like 
strength. Strength and valour win beauty and youth. 
Be brave and conquer. Be young and happy. Enjoy, 
enjoy, enjoy ! Would you know the Segreto per esser 
felice ? Here it is, in a smiling mistress and a cup of 
Falernian." As the boy tosses the cup and sings his 
song. Hark ! what is that chaunt coming nearer and 



CONGEEVE AND ADDISON". 69 

nearer ? What is tliat dirge which will disturb us ? 
The lights of the festival burn dim — the cheeks turn 
pale — ^the voice quavers — and the cup drops on the 
floor. AVho's there ? Death and Fate are at the gate, 
and they icill come in. 

Congreve's comic feast flares with lights, and round 
the table, emptying their flaming bowls of drink, and 
exchanging the wildest jests and ribaldry, sit men and 
women, waited on by rascally valets and attendants as dis- 
solute as their mistresses — perhaps the very worst com- 
pany in the world. There doesn't seem to be a pretence 
of morals. At the head of the table sits Mii^abel or 
Belmour (dressed in the French fashion and waited on 
by Enghsh imitators of Scapin and Frontin). Their 
calling is to be irresistible, and to conquer everywhere. 
Like the heroes of the chivahy story, whose long-winded 
loves and combats they were sending out of fasliion ; 
they are always splendid and triumphant — overcome 
all dangers, vanquish all enemies, and win the beauty 
at the end. Fathers, husbands, usurers are the foes 
these champions contend with. They are merciless in 
old age, invariably, and an old man plays the part in 
the dramas, which the wicked enchanter or the great 
blundering giant performs in the chivalry tales, who 
threatens and grumbles and resists — a huge stupid 
obstacle always overcome by the knight. It is an old 
man with a money-box : Sir Behnour his son or nephew 
spends his money and laughs at him. It is an old man 



70 EJNGLISH HU MO HEISTS. 

with a young wife whom he locks up : Sir Mirabel robs 
him of his wife, trips up his gouty old heels and leaves 
the old hunx — the old fool what business has he to 
hoard his money, or to lock up blushing eighteen ? 
Money is for youth, love is for youth, away with the 
old peoi)le. When Millamant is sixty, having of course 
divorced the first Lady Millamant, and married his 
friend Doricourt's grand- daughter out of the nursery — 
it will be his turn; and young Belmour will make a fool 
of him. All this pretty morality you have in the 
comedies of William Congreve, Esq. They are full of 
wit. Such manners as he observes, he observes with 
great humour ; but ah ! it's a weary feast that banquet 
of wit were no love is. It palls very soon ; sad indi- 
gestions follow it and lonely blank headaches in the 
morning. 

I can't pretend to quote scenes from the splendid 
Congreve's plays * — which are undeniably bright, witty, 



1 The scene of Valentine's pretended madness in *' Love for Love," is 
a splendid specimen of Congreve's daring manner : — 

Scandal. — And have you given your master a hint of their plot 
upon him ? 

Jeremy. — Yes, Sir; he says he'll favour it, and mistake her for 
Angelica. 

Scandal. — It may make us sport. 

ForedgJit. — Mercy on us ! 

Valentine. — Husht — interrupt me not — I'll whisper predictions to 
thee, and thou shalt prophesie ; — I am truth, and can teach thy tongue 
a new trick, — I have told thee what's passed, — now I'll tell what's to 
come : — Dost thou know what will happen to-morrow ? Answer me 
not — for I will tell thee. To-morrow knaves will thrive thro' craft, and 



CON-GREVE AND ADDISON. 71 

and daring, — any more than I could ask you to hear 
the dialogue of a witty bargeman and a brilliant fish- 



fools thro' foi^tune ; and honesty will go as it did, frost-nipt in a summer 
suit. Ask me questions concerning to-morrow. 

Scandal. — Ask him, Mr. Foresight. 

Foresight — Pray what will be done at Court ? 

Valentine. — Scandal will tell you ; — I am truth, I never come there. 

Foresight. — In the city ? 

Valentine. — Oh, prayers will be said in empty churches at the usual 
hours. Yet you will see such zealous faces behind counters, as if 
religion were to be sold in every shop. Oh, things will go methodically 
in the city, the clocks will strike twelve at noon, and the horn'd herd 
buz in the Exchange at two. Husbands and wives will drive distinct 
trades, and care and pleasure separately occupy the family. Coffee- 
houses will be full of smoke and stratagem. And the cropt prentice 
that sweeps his master's shop in the morning, may, ten to one, dirty his 
sheets before night. But there are two things, that you will see very 
strange ; which are, wanton wives with their legs at liberty, and tame 
cuckolds with chains about their necks. But hold, I must examine you 
before I go further; you look suspiciously. Are you a husband 1 

Foresight. — I am married. 

Valentine. — Poor creatui*e ! Is your wife of Covent-garden Parish ? 

Foresight. — No ; St. Martin's-in-the-Fields. 

Valentine. — Alas, poor man ! his eyes are sixnk, and his hands 
shrivelled ; his leggs dwindled, and his back bow'd. Pray, pray, for 
a metamorphosis — change thy shape, and shake off age; get the 
Medea's kettle and be boiled anew ; come forth with lab'i-ing callous 
hands, and chine of steel, and Atlas' shoulders. Let Taliacotius trim 
the calves of twenty chairmen, and make the pedestals to stand erect 
upon, and look matrimony in the face. Ha, ha, ha ! That a man should 
have a stomach to a wedding supper, when the pidgeons ought rather 
to be laid to his feet ! ha, ha, ha ! 

Foresight. — His frenzy is very high now, Mr. Scandal. 

Scandal. — I believe it is a spring-tide. 

Foresight. — Very likely — truly ; you understand these matters. Mr. 
Scandal, I shall be very glad to confer with you about these things 
he has uttered. His sayings are very mysterious and hieroglyphical . 

Valentine. — Oh ! why would Angelica be absent from my eyes 
so long? 



72 ENGLISH HUMOUEISTS. 

woman exchanging compliments at Billingsgate; but 
some of his verses, — they were amongst the most famous 



Jeremy. — She's here, Sir. 

Mrs. Foresight. — Now, Sister ! 

Mrs. Frail. — Lord ! what must I say ? 

Scandal. — Humour him, Madam, by all means. 

Valentine. — Where is she ] Oh ! I see her ; she comes, like Riches, 
Health, and Liberty at once, to a despairing, starving, and abandoned 
wretch. Oh — welcome, welcome ! 

Mrs. Frail. — How d'ye. Sir ] Can I serve you 1 

Valeoitine. — Hark'ee — I have a secret to tell you, Endymion and 
the moon shall meet as on Mount Latmos, and we'll be married in the 
dead of night. But say not a word. Hymen shall put his torch 
into a dark lanthorn, that it may be secret ; and Juno shall give 
her peacock poppy-water, that he may fold his ogling tail; and 
Argus's hundred eyes be shut — ha ! Nobody shall know, but Jeremy. 

Mrs. Frail. — No, no ; we'll keep it secret; it shall be done presently. 
Valentine. — The sooner the better. Jeremy, come hither — closer — 
that none may overhear us. Jeremy, I can tell you news; Angelica 
is turned nun, and I am turning friar, and yet we'll marry one 
another in spite of the Pope. Get me a cowl and beads, that I may 
play my part; for she'll meet me two hours hence in black and 
white, and a long veil to cover the project, and we won't see one 
another's faces 'till we have done something to be ashamed of, and 
then we'll blush once for all 

Enter Tattle. 

Tattle. — Do you know me, Valentine ? 

Valentine. — You ! — who are you 1 No ; I hope not. 

Tattle. — I am JacJc Tattle, your friend. 

Valentine. — My friend ! What to do ] I am no married man, 
and thou canst not lye with my wife; I am very poor, and thou 
canst not borrow money of me. Then, what employment have I 
for a friend ] 

Tattle. — Hah ! A good open speaker, and not to be trusted with 
a secret. 

Angelica. — Do you know me, Valentine! 

Valentine. — Oh, very well. 

Angelica. — Who am 1% 



CON'GEEVE AND ADDISON". 73 

lyrics of the time, and pronounced equal to Horace 
by liis contemporaries, — may give an idea of his power, 

Valentine. — You're a woman; one to whom Heaven gave beauty 
when it gi'afted roses on a brier. You are the reflection of Heaven 
in a pond; and he that leaps at you is sunk. You are all white — 
a sheet of spotless paper — when you first are born ; but you are to 
be scrawled and blotted by every goose's quill. I know you ; for 
I loved a woman, and loved her so long that I found out a strange 
thing : I found out what a woman was good for. 

Tattle. — Ay ! pr'ythee, what's that 1 

Valentine. — Why, to keep a secret. 

Tattle.— Lord ! 

Valentine. — 0, exceeding good to keep a secret; for, though she 
shoul'd tell, yet she is not to be believed. 

Tattle. — Hah ! Good again, faith. 

Valentine. — I would have musick. Sing me the song that I like. 
— Congee VE. " Love for Love." 

There is a Mrs. Niclclehy, of the year 1700, in Cougreve's Comedy 
of "The Double Dealer," in whose character the author introduces 
some wonderful traits of roguish satii'e. She is practised on by the 
gallants of the play, and no more knows how to resist them than any of 
the ladies above quoted could resist Congreve. 

Lady Plyant. — ! reflect upon the honour of your conduct ! 
Offering to pervert me [the joke is that the gentleman is pressing the 
lady for her daughter's hand, not for her own] — perverting me from 
the road of virtue, in which I have trod thus long, and never made one 
trip — not one faux pas ; 0, consider it ; what would you have to 
answer for-, if you should provoke me to frailty ! Alas ! humanity is 
feeble, Heaven knows ! Very feeble,, and unable to support itself. 

Mellefont. — Where am 11 Is it day ? and am I awake ? Madam — 

Lady Plyant. — Lord, ask me the question ! I'll swear I'll deny 
it — ^therefore don't ask me ; nay, you shan't ask me ; I swear I'll deny 
it. Gemini, you have brought all the blood into my face ; I wai'rant 
I am as red as a turkey-cock ; fie, cousin Mellefont ! 

Mellefont.- — Nay, madam, hear me ; I mean 

Lady Plyant. — Hear you 1 No, no ; I'll deny you first, and hear you 
afterwards. For one does not know how one's mind may change upon 
hearing — hearing is one of the senses, and all the senses are fallible. I 



74 EN'GLTSH HUMOUEISTS. 

of liis grace, of his daring manner, his magnificence in 
comphment, and his polished sarcasm. He writes as 
if he was so accustomed to conquer, that he has a poor 
opinion of his victims. Nothing's new except their 
faces, says he, " Every woman is the same." He says 
this in his first comedy, which he -wTote languidly' in 



won't trust my honour, I assure you ; my honour is infallible and 
uncomatable. 

Mellefont. — For Heaven's sake, madam 

Lady Plyant. — 0, name it no more. Bless me, how can you talk of 
heaven, and have so much wickedness in your heart ? May be, you 
dosn't think it a sin. They say some of you gentlemen don't think it a 

sin ; but still, my honour, if it were no sin . But, then, to marry 

my daughter for the convenience of frequent opportunities, — I'll never 
consent to that : as sure as can be, I'll break the match. 

Mellefont. — Death and amazement ! Madam, upon my knees 

Lady Plyant. — Nay, nay, rise up ; come, you shall see my good- 
nature. I know love is powerful, and nobody can help his passion. 
'Tis not your fault ; nor I swear, it is not mine. How can I help it, if 
I have charms ? And how can you help it, if you are made a captive ? 
I swear it is pity it should be a fault ; but, my honom-. "Well, but 
your honour, too — but the sin ! Well, but the necessity. Lord, 
here's somebody coming, I dare not stay. Well, you must consider 
of your crime ; and strive as much as can be against it — strive, be 
sure ; but don't be melancholick — don't despair ; but never think that 
I'll grant you anything. Lord, no ; but be sure you lay all thoughts 
aside of the marriage, for though I know you don't love Cynthia, only 
as a blind for your passion to me ; yet it will make me jealous. 
Lord, what did I say? Jealous ! No, I can't be jealous; for I must 
not love you; therefore don't hope; but don't despair neither. 
They're coming ; I must ^j.—The Double Dealer. Act 2nd, scene v. 
page 156. 

^ " There seems to be a strange affectation in authors of appearing to 
have done everything by chance. The Old Bachelor was written for 
amusement in the languor of convalescence. Yet it is apparently 
composed with great elaborateness of dialogue, and incessant ambition 
of wit." — Johnson. Lives of the Poets. 



COXGREYE AN"D ADDISOl!^. 75 

illness, when lie was an " excellent young man." Eiche- 
lieu at eighty could have hardly said a more excellent 
thing. 

When he advances to make one of his conquests it 
is with a splendid gallantry, in full uniform and with 
the fiddles playing, like Grammont's French dandies 
attacking the breach of Lerida. 

"Cease, cease to ask her name," he writes of a young 
lady at the Wells at Tunbridge, whom he salutes with 
a magnificent compliment — 

" Cease, cease to ask her name, 
The crowned Muse's noblest theme, 
Whose glory by immortal fame 

Shall only sounded be. 
But if you long to know, 
Then look round yonder dazzling row. 
Who most does like an angel show 

You may be sure 'tis she." 

Here are Hues about another beauty, who perhaps 
was not so well pleased at the poet's manner of cele- 
brating her — 

" When Lesbia first I saw, so heavenly fair, 
With eyes so bright and with that awful air, 
I thought my heart would durst so high aspire 
As bold as his who snatched celestial fire. 
But soon as e'er the beauteous idiot spoke. 
Forth fi'om her coral lips such folly broke ; 
Like balm the trickling nonsense heal'd my wound. 
And what her eyes enthralled, her tongue unbound." 

Amoret is a cleverer woman than the lovely Lesbia, 
but the poet does not seem to respect one much more 



76 ENGLISH HUMOUEISTS. 

than tlie other ; and describes both with exquisite 
satirical humour — 

" Fair Amoret is gone astray, 

Pursue aud seek her every lover ; 
I'll tell the signs by which you may 
The wandering shepherdess discover. 

Coquet and coy at once her air, 

Both studied, though both seem neglected ; 

Careless she is with artful care, 
Affecting to be unaffected. 

With skill her eyes dart every glance, 

Yet change so soon you'd ne'er suspect them ; 

For she'd persuade they wound by chance, 
Though certain aim and art direct them. 

She likes herself, yet others hates 

For that which in herself she prizes ; 
And, while she laughs at them, forgets 

She is the thing which she despises." 

What could Amoret have done to bring down such 
shafts of ridicule upon her ? Could she have resisted 
the irresistible Mr. Congreve ? Could anybody ? Could 
Sabina, when she woke and heard such a bard singing 
under her window. See, he writes — 

" See ! see, she wakes — Sabina wakes ! 

And now the sun begins to rise : 
Less glorious is the morn, that breaks 

From his bright beams, than her fair eyes. 
With light united day they give ; 

But different fates ere night fulfil : 
How many by his warmth will live ! 

How many will her coldness kill ! " 

Are you melted ? Don't jou think him a divine 



co:n'GREve and addisok. 77 

man ? If not toucliecl by tlie brilliant Sabina, hear 
the devout Selinda : — 

" Pious Selinda goes to prayers, 

If I but ask her favour ; 
And yet the silly fool 's in tears, 

If she believes I'll leave her. 
"Would I were free from this restraint. 

Or else had hopes to win her : 
"Would she could make of me a saint. 

Or I of her a sinner ! " 

"What a conquering air there is about these ! What 
an irresistible Mr. Congreve it is ! Sinner ! of course 
he will be a sinner, the delightful rascal ! Win her ; 
of course he will win her, the victorious rogue ! He 
knows he will : he must — with such a grace, with such 
a fashion, with such a splendid embroidered suit — you 
see him with red-heeled shoes deliciously turned out, 
passing a fair jewelled hand through his dishevelled 
periwig and dehvering a killing ogle along with his 
scented billet. And Sabina? What a comparison 
that is between the nymph and the sun ! The sun gives 
Sabina the pas, and does not venture to rise before her 
ladyship : the morn's bright beams are less glorious 
than her fair eyes : but before night everybody will be 
frozen by her glances : everybody but one lucky rogue 
who shall be nameless : Louis Quatorze in all his glory 
is hardly more splendid than our Phoebus Apollo of the 
Mall and Spring Garden.* 



'Among those by whom it ('Wills's') was frequented, Southeme 



78 ENGLISH HUMOUEISTS. 

When Voltake came to visit tlie great Congreve, the 
latter rather affected to despise his literary reputation, 
and in this perhaps the great Congreve was not far 
wrong.^ A touch of Steele's tenderness is worth all his 
finery — a flash of Swift's lightning — a beam of Addison's 
pure sunshme, and his tawdry play-house taper is 
invisible. But the ladies loved him and he was 
undoubtedly a pretty fellow.' 



and Congreve were principally distinguished by Dryden's friendship. 

But Congreve seems to have gained yet farther than Southerne 

upon Dryden's friendship. He was introduced to him by his first 
play, the celebrated * Old Bachelor ' being put into the poet's hands to 
be revised. Dryden, after making a few alterations to fit it for the 
stage, returned it to the author with the high and just commendation, 
that it was the best first play he had ever seen." — Scott's I>ryden, 
vol. i. p. 370. 

^ It was in Surrey-street, Strand (where he afterwards died), that 
Voltaire visited him, in the decline of his life. 

The anecdote in the text, relating to his saying that he wished " to 
be visited on no other footing than as a gentleman who led a life of 
plainness and simplicity," is common to all writers on the subject of 
Congreve, and appears in the English version of Voltaire's Letters 
concerning the English nation, published in London, 1733, as also in 
Goldsmith's " Memoir of Voltaii'e." But it is worthy of remark, that it 
does not appear in the text of the same Letters in the edition of 
Voltaire's CEuvres Completes in the Pantheon Litteraire. Vol. v. of his 
works. (Paris, 1837.) 

" Celm de tons les Anglais qui a portd le plus loin la gloire du 
thedtre comique est feu M. Congreve. II n'a fait que peu de pieces, 
mais toutes sont excellentes dans leur genre Vous y voyez par- 
tout le langage des honnetes gens avec des actions de fripon ; ce qui 
prouve qu'il connaissait bien son monde, et qu'il vivait dans ce qu'on 
appelle la bonne compagnie." — Voltaike. Lettres sur les Anglais, 
Let. 19. 

" On the death of Queen Mary, he published a Pastoral — " The 



COJfGREVE AND ADDISOX. 79 

We have seen in Swift a humourous philosopher, 
whose truth frightens one, and whose laughter 
makes one melancholy. We have had in Congreve a 



Mourning Muse of Alexis." Alexis and Menalcas sing alternately in 
the orthodox way. The Queen is called Pastora. 

" I mourn Pastora dead, let Albion mourn, 
And sable clouds her chalky cliffs adorn," 

says Alexis. Among other phenomena, we learn that — 

" With their sharp nails themselves the Satyrs wound, 
And tug their shaggy beards, and bite with grief the ground," — 

(a degree of sensibility not always found in the Satyrs of that 
period !).... It continues — 

"Lord of these woods and wide extended plains, 

Stretch'd on the ground and close to earth his face, 

Scalding with tears the already faded grass. 
***** 

To dust must all that Heavenly beauty come ? 

And must Pastora moulder in the tomb ? 

Ah Death ! more fierce and unrelenting far. 

Than wildest wolves and savage tigers are ; 

With lambs and sheep their hunger is appeased. 

But ravenous Death the shepherdess has seized." 

This statement that a wolf eats but a sheep, whilst Death eats a 
shepherdess; that figure of the " Great Shepherd," lying speechless on 
his stomach, in a state of despair which neither winds nor floods nor 
air can exhibit, are to be remembered in poetry surely, and this style 
was admired in its time by the admirers of the great Congi'eve ! 

In the " Teai-s of Amaryllis for Amyntas " (the young Lord Blandford, 
the great Duke of Marlborough's only son), Amaryllis represents 
Sarah Duchess ! 

The tigers and wolves, nature and motion, rivers and echoes, come in 
to work here again. At the sight of her grief — 

" Tigers and wolves their wonted rage forego. 
And dumb distress and new compassion show. 
Nature herself attentive silence kept, 
And motion seemed sics^pended ivhile she wcjjt /" — 



80 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

humourous observer of another school to whom the 
world seems to have no moral at all, and whose ghastly 
doctrine seems to be that we should eat, drink, and be 
merry when we can, and go to the deuce (if there be 
a deuce) when the time comes. We come now to a 
humour that flows from quite a different heart and 



And Pope dedicated the Iliad to the author of these lines — and Dryden 
wrote to him in his great hand : 

" Time, place, and action may with pains be wrought, 
But Genius must be born and never can be taught. 
This is your portion, this your native store ; 
Heaven, that but once was prodigal before, 
To Shakspeare gave as much she could not give him more. 

Maintain your Post : that's all the Fame you need, 
For 'tis impossible you should proceed; 
Already I am worn with cares and age, 
And just abandoning th' ungrateful Stage : 
Unprofitably kept at Heaven's expence, 
I live a Rent-charge upon Providence : 
But you whom every Muse and Grace adorn, 
Whom I foresee to better fortune born, 
.Be kind to my remains, and oh defend 
Against your Judgment your departed Friend ! 
Let not the insulting Foe my Fame pursue ; 
But shade those Lawrels which descend to You : 
And take for Tribute what these Lines express; 
You merit more, nor could my Love do less," 

This is a very different manner of welcome to that of our own day. 
In Shadwell, Higgons, Congreve, and the comic authors of their time, 
when gentlemen meet they fall into each other's arms, with "Jack, 
Jack, I must buss thee ;" or " Fore George, Harry, I must kiss thee, lad." 
And in a similar manner the poets saluted their brethren. Literary 
gentlemen do not kiss now ; I wonder if they love each other better, 

Steele calls Congreve " Great Sir " and " Great Author; " says, " Well- 
dressed barbarians knew his awful name," and addresses him as if he 
were a prince ; and speaks of " Pastora " as one of the most famous 
tragic compositions. 



CONGREVE AND ADDISON". 81 

spirit — a wit that makes us laugh and leaves us good 
and happy ; to one of the kindest benefactors that 
society has ever had, and I believe you have divined 
already that I am about to mention Addison's honoured 
name. 

From reading over his writings, and the biographies 
which w^e have of him, amongst which the famous 
aj;ticle in the Edinburgh Eeview ^ may be cited as a 
magnificent statue of the great writer and morahst of 
the last age, raised by the love and the marvellous 
skill and genius of one of the most illustrious artists of 
our own ; looking at that calm, fair face, and clear 
countenance — those chiselled features pure and cold, I 
can't but fanc}^ that this great man, in this respect, 
like him of wdiom we spoke in the last lecture, was also 
one of the lonely ones of the world. Such men have 
very few equals, and they don't herd with those. It is 



^ " To Addison himself we are bound by a sentiment as much like 
affection as any sentiment can be which is inspired by one who has 
been sleeping a hundred and twenty years in Westminster Abbey. . . " 
. . . "After full inquiry and impartial reflection we have long been 
convinced that he deserved as much love and esteem as can justly be 
claimed by any of our infirm and erring race." — Macaulat. 

'' Many who praise virtue do no more than praise it. Yet it is 
reasonable to believe that Addison's profession and practice were at no 
great variance ; since, amidst that storm of faction in which most of his 
life was passed, though his station made him conspicuous, and his 
activity made him formidable, the character given him by his fi'iends 
was never contradicted by his enemies. Of those with whom interest 
or opinion united him, he had not only the esteem but the kindness ; 
and of others, whom the violence of opposition drove against him, 
though he might lose the love, he retained the reverence." — Johnson. 

G 



82 ENGLISH HUMOUEISTS. 

in the nature of such lords of intellect to he sohtary — 
they are in the world hut not of it ; and our minor 
struggles, hrawls, successes, pass under them. 

Kind, just, serene, impartial, his fortitude not tried 
heyond easy endurance, his affections not much used, 
for his hooks were his family, and his society was in 
puhlic ; admirably wiser, wittier, calmer, and more 
instructed than almost every man with whom he met, 
how could Addison suffer, desire, admire, feel much ? 
I may expect a child to admii'e me for heing taller or 
writing more cleverly than she ; hut how can I ask my 
superior to say that I am a wonder wdien he knows 
better than I ? In Addison's days you could scarcety 
show him a literary performance, a sermon, or a poem, 
or a piece of literary criticism, but he felt he could do 
better. His justice must have made him indifferent. He 
didn't praise, because he measured his compeers by a 
liigher standard than common people have.* How was 
he who was so tall to look up to any but the loftiest 
genius ? He must have stooped to put himself on a 
level with most men. By that profusion of gTaciousness 
and smiles, with which Goethe or Scott, for instance, 
greeted almost every literary beginner, every small 
literary adventurer who came to his court and went 



^ "Addison was perfect good company with intimates, and had 
something more charming in his conversation than I ever knew in any 
other man ; but with any mixture of strangers, and sometimes only 
with one, he seemed to preserve his dignity much, with a stiff sort of 
silence." — Pope. {S^ence's Anecdotes). 



COIn^GREYE and ADDISON". 83 

away charmed from the great king's audience, and 
cuddling to his heart the compliment which his 
literary majesty had paid him — each of the two good- 
natured potentates of letters brought their star and 
riband into discredit. Everybody had his Majesty's 
orders. Everybody had liis Majesty's cheap j)ortrait, 
on a box surrounded with diamonds worth twopence a 
piece. A very great and just and wise man ought not 
to praise indiscriminately, but give his idea of the 
truth. Addison praises the ingenious Mr. Pinkethman : 
Addison praises the ingenious Mr. Peggott the actor, 
whose benefit is coming off that night : Addison 
praises Don Saltero : Addison praises Milton with all 
his heart, bends liis knee and frankly pays homage to 
that imperial genius.^ But between those degrees of 
his men his praise is very scanty. I don't think the 
great Mr. Addison liked young Mr. Pope, the Papist, 
much; I don't think he abused him. But when Mr. 



^ "Milton's cliief talent, and indeed his distinguisliing excellence 
lies in the sublimity of his thoughts. There are others of the modem, 
who rival him in every other part of poetiy ; but in the greatness of 
his sentiments he triumphs over all tha poets, both modem and ancient, 
Homer alone excepted. It is impossible for the imagination of man to 
distvu'b itself with greater ideas than those which he has laid together 
in his first, second, and sixth books." — Spectator, No 279. 

" If I were to name a poet that is a perfect master in all these arts of 
working on the imagination, I think Milton may pass for one." — Ibid. 
No. 417. 

These famous papers appeared in each Saturday's Spectator, from 
January 19th to May 3rd, 1712. Besides his services to Milton, we may 
place those he did to Sacred Music. 

G 2 



84 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

Addison's men abused Mr. Pope, I don't think Addison 
took liis pipe out of liis mouth to contradict them.* 

Addison's father was a clergyman of good repute in 
Wiltshire, and rose in the church.^ His famous son 
never lost his clerical training and scholastic gravity, 
and was called " a parson in a tye-wig " ^ in London 
afterwards at a time when tye-wigs were only worn by 
the laity, and the fathers of theology did not think it 



^ "Addison was very kind to me at first, but my bitter enemy 
afterwards." — Pope {Spence's Anecdotes). 

" ' Leave him as soon as you can/ said Addison to me, speaking of 
Pope; 'he will certainly play you some devilish trick else : he has an 
appetite to satire.'" — Lady Wortlet Montagu {Spence's Anecdotes). 

2 Lancelot Addison, his father, was the son of another Lancelot 
Addison, a clergyman in Westmoreland. He became Dean of Lichfield 
and Archdeacon of Coventry. 

^ " The remark of Mandeville, who, when he had passed an evening 
in his company, declared that he was 'a parson in a tye-wig,' can 
detract little from his character. He was always reserved to strangers 
and was not incited to uncommon freedom by a character like that of 
Mandeville." — Johnson {Lives of the Poets.) 

"■ Old Jacob Tonson did not like Mr. Addison : he had a quarrel 
with him, and, after his quitting the secretaryship, used frequently 
to say of him — ' One day or other you'll see that man a bishop — I'm 
sure he looks that way ; and indeed I ever thought him a priest in 
his heart.'" — Pope {Spence's Anecdotes). 

" Mr. Addison staid above a year at Blois. He 'would rise as early 
as between two and three in the height of summer, and lie a bed till 
between eleven and twelve in the depth of ^vinter. He was untalkative 
whilst here, and often thoughtful : sometimes so lost in thought, that 
I have come into his room and staid five minutes there before he has 
known anything of it. He had his masters generally at supper with 
him ; kept very little company beside ; and had no amour whilst too, 
that I know of ; and I think I should have known it, if he had had 
any." — Abbe Philippeaux of Blois {Spence's Anecdotes). 



CONGREYE AND ADDISON. 85 

decent to appear except in a full bottom. Having been 
at school at Salisbury, and the Charterhouse, in 1687, 
when he was fifteen years old he went to Queen's 
College, Oxford, where he speedily began to distinguish 
himself by the making of Latin verses. The beautiful 
and fanciful j)oem of " The Pigmies and the Cranes " 
is still read by lovers of that sort of exercise, and 
verses are extant in honour of King AYilliam by which 
it appears that it was the loyal youth's custom to toast 
that sovereign in bumpers of purple Lyseus ; and many 
more works are in the Collection, includmg one on the 
-peace of Ryswick, in 1697, which was so good that 
Montague got him a pension of 300L a year, on which 
Addison set out on his travels. 

During his ten years at Oxford, Addison had deeply 
imbued himself with the Latin poetical literature, and 
had these poets at his fingers' ends when he travelled 
in Italy.* His patron went out of office, and his pension 
was unpaid : and hearing that this great scholar, now 
eminent and known to the literati of Europe (the great 
Boileau,'' upon perusal of Mr. Addison's elegant 
hexameters, was first made aware that England was 
not altogether a barbarous nation) — hearing that the 



^ " His knowledge of the Latin poets, from Lucretius and Catullus, 
down to Claudian and Prudentius, was singularly exact and profound." 
— Macaulay. 

2 " Our country owes it to him, that the famous Monsieur Boileau 
first conceived an opinion of the English genius for poetry, by perusing 
the present he made him of the Musce Angllcance." — Tickell {Preface 
to Addison's Woi-ks). 



86 ENGLISH HTJMOUPJSTS. 

celebrated Mr. Addison, of Oxford, proposed to travel 
as governor to a young gentleman on the grand tour, 
the great Duke of Somerset proposed to Mr. Addison 
to accompany his son, Lord Hartford, 

Mr. Addison was delighted to be of use to his Grace 
and his lordship, his Grace's son, and expressed him- 
self ready to set forth. 

His Grace the Duke of Somerset now announced to 
one of the most famous scholars of Oxford and Europe 
that it was his gracious intention to allow my Lord 
Hartford's tutor one hundred guineas per annum. Mr. 
Addison wrote back that his services were his Grace's, 
but he by no means found his account in the recompense 
for them. The negotiation was broken off. They 
parted with a profusion of congees on one side and the 
other. 

Addison remained abroad for some time, living in 
the best society of Europe. How could he do otherwise ? 
He must have been one of the finest gentlemen the world 
ever saw : at all moments of life serene and courteous, 
cheerful and calm.* He could scarcely ever have had a 
degrading thought. He might have omitted a vii'tue 
or two, or many, but could not have had many 
faults committed for which he need blush or turn pale. 



^ "It was my fate to be much with the wits; my father was 
acquainted with all of them. Addison was the best company in the 
world. I never knew anybody that had so much wit as Cougreve." — 
Lady Wortlet Montaou {Spence's Anecdotes). 



CONGKEVE AND ADDISOK 87 

When warmed into confidence, his conversation appears 
to have been so delightful that the greatest wits sate 
wrapt and charmed to listen to him. No man bore 
poverty and narrow fortune with a more lofty cheerful- 
ness. His letters to his friends at this period of his 
life when he had lost his government pension, and given 
up his college chances, are full of courage and a gay 
confidence and philosophy: and they are none the 
worse in my eyes, and I hope not in those of his last 
and greatest biogi^apher (though Mr. Macaulay is bound 
to own and lament a certain weakness for wine, which 
the great and good Joseph Addison notoriously pos- 
sessed, in common with countless gentlemen of his 
time), because some of the letters are written when his 
honest hand was shaking a little in the morning after 
libations to purple Lyseus over-night. He was fond of 
drinking the healths of his friends : he writes to Wyche,' 



^ mr, addison to me. wyche. 
"Dear Sir, 

" My hand at present begins to grow steady enough for a letter, 
BO the properest use I can put it to is to thank ye honest gentleman 
that set it a shaking. I have had this morning a desperate design in 
my head to attack you in verse, which I should certainly have done 
could I have found out a rhyme to rummer. But though you have 
escaped for ye present, you are not yet out of danger, if I can a little 
recover my talent at Crambo. I am sure, in whatever way I write to 
you, it will be impossible for me to express ye deep sense I have 
of ye many favours you have lately shown me. I shall only tell 
you that Hambourg has been the pleasantest stage I have met with in 
my travails. If any of my friends wonder at me for living so long 
in that place, I dare say it will be thought a very good excuse when 



88 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

of Hamburgh, gratefully remembering Wyche's " hoc." 
" I have been drinking your health to-day with Sir 
Richard Shirley," he writes to Bathurst. " I have 
lately had the honour to meet my Lord Effingham at 
Amsterdam, where we have drunk Mr. Wood's health 
a hundred times in excellent champagne," he writes 
again. Swift * describes him over his cups, when Joseph 



I tell him Mr. Wycbe was there. As your company made our stay 

at Hambourg agreeable, your wine has given us all ye satisfaction 

that we have found in our journey through Westphalia. If drinking 

your health will do you any good, you may expect to be as long lived 

as Methusaleh, or, to use a more familiar instance, as ye oldest hoc 

in ye cellar, I hope ye two pair of legs that was left a swelling 

behind us are by this time come to their shapes again. I can't forbear 

troubling you with my hearty respects to ye ownei'S of them, and 

desiring you to believe me always, 

" Dear Sir, 

" Yours, &c. 

" To Mr. Wyche, His Majesty's Resident at Hambourg, 

"May, 1703." 

— From the " Life of Addison,'" by Miss Aikin. Vol, i. p. 146. 

^ It is pleasing to remember, that the relation between Swift and 
Addison was, on the whole, satisfactory, from first to last. The value 
of Swift's testimony, when nothing personal inflamed his vision or 
warped his judgment, can be doubted by nobody. 

"Sept. 10, 1710. — I sat till ten in the evening with Addison and 
Steele. 

'* 11. — Mr. Addison and I dined together at his lodgings, and I sat 
with him part of this evening. 

" 18. — To-day I dined with Mr. Stratford at Mr. Addison's retire- 
ment near Chelsea I will get what good offices I can from 

Mr. Addison. 

" 27. — To-day all our company dined at WillFrankland's, with Steele 
and Addison, too. 

" 29. —I dined with Mr. Addison, fee." — Journal to Stella. 

Addison inscribed a presentation copy of his Travels '' To Dr. 



CONGREVE AND ADDISON. 89 

yielded to a temptation wliicli Jonathan resisted. 
Joseph was of a cold nature, and needed perhaps the 
fire of wine to warm his hlood. If he was a parson : 
he wore a tye-wig, recollect, A better and more 
Christian man scarcely ever breathed than Joseph 
Addison. If he had not that little weakness for wine 
— why, we could scarcely have found a fault with him, 
and could not have liked him as we do.^ 

At thirty-three years of age, this most distinguished 
wit, scholar, and gentleman was without a profession 
and an income. His book of " Travels " had failed : his 
" Dialogues on Medals " had had no particular success : 
his Latin verses, even though reported the best since 
Virgil, or Statins at any rate, had not brought him a 



Jonathan Swift, the most agreeable companion, the truest friend, and 
the greatest genius of his age." — (Scott. From the information of 
Mr. Theophilus Swift.) 

" Mr. Addison, who goes over first secretary, is a most excellent 
person ; and being my most intimate friend, I shall use all my credit 
to set him right in his notions of persons and things." — Letters. 

" I examine my heart, and can find no other reason why I write to 
you now, besides that great love and esteem I have always had for you. 
I have nothing to ask you either for my friend or for myself." — Swift 
to Addison (1717). Scott's Swift. Yol. xix. p. 274. 

Political differences only dulled for a while their friendly commvmi- 
cations. Time renewed them ; and Tickell enjoyed Swift's friendship 
as a legacy from the man with whose memory his is so honourably 
connected. 

^ " Addison usually studied all the morning ; then met his party at 
Button's ; dined there, and stayed five or six houi-s, and sometimes far 
into the night. I was of the company for about a year, but found it 
too much for me : it hurt my health, and so I quitted it." — Pope 
{SpeTic^s Anecdotes). 



90 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

Government-place, and Addison was living up two 
shabby pair of stairs in the Haymarket (in a poverty 
over which old Samuel Johnson rather chuckles), 
when in these shabby rooms, an emissary from 
Government and Fortune came and found him.* A 
poem was wanted about the Duke of Marlborough's 
victory of Blenheim. Would Mr. Addison write one ? 
Mr. Boyle, afterwards Lord Carleton, took back the 
reply to the Lord Treasurer Godolphin, that Mr. 
Addison would. When the poem had reached a certain 
stage, it was carried to Godolphin ; and the last lines 
which he read were these : — 

*' But 0, my muse ! wliat numbers wilt thou find 
To sing the furious trqops in battle join'd? 
Methinks I hear the drum's tumultouuf? sound, 
The victor's shouts and dying groans confound ; 
The dreadful burst of cannon rend the skies, 
And all the thunders of the battle rise. 
'Twas then great Marlborough's mighty soul was proved, 
That, in the shock of charging hosts unmoved, 
Amidst confusion, horror, and despair, 
Examined all the dreadful scenes of war : 
In peaceful thought the field of death surveyed, 
To fainting squadrons lent the timely aid, 
Inspired repulsed battalions to engage. 
And taught the doubtful battle where to rage. 
So when an angel by divine command. 
With rising tempests shakes a guilty land 
(Such as of late o'er pale Bi'itannia passed). 
Calm and serene he dxives the furious blast ; 
And, pleased the Almighty's orders to perform. 
Bides on the whirlwind and directs the storm." 



"When he returned to England (in 1702), with a meanness of 



CONGREVE AXD ADDIS0:N". 91 

Addison left off at a good moment. That simile 
was pronounced to be of the greatest ever produced 
in poetry. That angel, that good angel, flew off with 
Mr. Addison, and landed him in the place of Commis- 
sioner of Appeals — vice Mr. Locke providentially 
promoted. In the follomng year, Mr. Addison went 
to Hanover with Lord Halifax, and the year after was 
made Under-Secretary of State. angel visits ! you 
come " few and far between " to literary gentlemen's 
lodgings ! Your wings seldom quiver at second-floor 
windows now ! 

You laugh ? You think it is in the power of few 
writers now-a-days to call up such an angel ? Well 
perhaps not; but permit us to comfort ourselves by 
pointing out that there are in the poem of the 
" Campaign" some as bad lines as heart can desire : and 
to hint that Mr. Addison did very wisely in not going- 
further with my Lord Godolphin than that angelical 
simile. Do allow me, just for a little harmless mischief, 
to read you some of the lines which follow. Here is 
the interview between the Duke and the King of the 
Romans after the battle : — 

" Austria's young monarch, whose imperial sway 
Sceptres and thrones are destined to obey, 



appearance which gave testimony of the difficulties to which he had 
been reduced, he found his old patrons out of power, and was, there- 
fore, for a time, at full leisure for the cultivation of his mind." — 
Johnson {Lives of the Poets). 



92 ENGLISH HUMOUEISTS. 

Whose boasted ancestry so higli extends 
That in the pagan Gods his lineage ends, 
Comes from afar, in gratitude to own 
The great supporter of his father's throne. 
What tides of glory to his bosom ran 
Clasped in th' embraces of the godlike man ! 
How were his eyes with pleasing wonder fixt, 
To see such fire with so much sweetness mixt ! 
Such easy greatness, such a graceful port, 
So learned and finished for the camp or court I " 

How many fourtli-form boys at Mr. Addison's school 
of Charter-house could write as well as that now ? The 
" Campaign " has blunders, triumphant as it was ; and 
weak points like all campaigns.' 

In the year 1718 " Cato " came out. Swift has left a 
description of the first night of the performance. All 
the laurels of Europe were scarcely sufficient for the 
author of this prodigious poem.^ Laudations of Whig 



^ " Mr. Addison wrote very fluently ; but he was sometimes very 
slow and scrupulous in correcting. He would show his verses to 
several friends ; and would alter almost everything that any of them 
hinted at as wrong. He seemed to be too diffident of himself; and 
too much concerned about his character as a poet ; or (as he worded 
it), too solicitous for that kind of praise, which, God knows, is but a 
very little matter after all !" — Pope {Spence's Anecdotes). 

2 "As to poetical affairs," says Pope, in 1713, "lam content at 

present to be a bare looker-on Cato was not so much the 

wonder of Eome in his days, as he is of Britain in ours ; and though 
all the foolish industry possible has been used to make it thought a 
party play, yet what the author once said of another may the most 
properly in the world be applied to him on this occasion : 

"'Envy itself is dumb — in wonder lost; 

And factions strive who shall applaud him most.' 

''The numerous and violent claps of the Whig party on the one 



CONGREVE AND ADDISON. 93 

and Tory chiefs, popular ovations, complimentary 
garlands from literary men, translations in all 
languages, delight and homage from all — save from 
John Dennis in a minority of one — Mr. Addison was 
called the " great Mr. Addison" after this. The Coffee- 
house Senate saluted him Divus : it was heresy to 
question that decree. 

Meanwhile he was writing political i)a]3ers and 



side of the theatre were echoed back by the Tories on the other ; 
while the author sweated behind the scenes with concern to find 

their applause proceeding more from the hands than the head 

I believe you have heard that, after all the applauses of the opposite 
faction, my Lord Bolingbroke sent for Booth, who played Cato, into 
the box, and presented him with fifty guineas in acknowledgment 
(as he expressed it) for defending the cause of liberty so well against 
a perpetual dictator." — Pope's Letter to Sir W. Trumbull. 

Cato ran for thirty-five nights without interruption. Pope wrote 
the Prologue, and Garth the Epilogue. 

It is worth noticing how many things in Cato keep their ground as 
habitual quotations, e. g, : — ■ 

" . . . . big with the fate 
Of Cato and of Rome." 

*' Tis not in mortals to command success, 
But we'll do more, Sempronius, we'll deserve it." 

" Blesses his stars, and thinks it luxury." 

" 1 think the Romans call it Stoicism." 

" My voice is still for war." 

" When vice prevails, and impious men bear sway, 

The post of honour is a private station." 

Not to mention — 

" The woman who deliberates is lost." 

And the eternal — 

" Plato, thou reasonest well," 

which avenges, perhaps, on the public their neglect of the play ! 



94 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

advancing in the political profession. He went Secretary 
to Ireland. He was appointed Secretary of State in 
1717. And letters of liis are extant, bearing date some 
year or two before, and written to young Lord Warwick, 
in which he addresses him as " my dearest lord," and 
asks affectionately about his studies, and writes very 
prettily about nightingales, and birds' -nests, which he 
has found at Fulham for his lordship. Those nightin- 
gales were intended to warble in the ear of Lord 
Warwick's mamma. Addison married her ladyship in 
1716 ; and died at Holland House three years after 
that splendid but dismal union. ^ 



^ " The lady was persuaded to marry him on terms much like 
those on which a Turkish princess is espoused, — to whom the Sultan 
is reported to pronounce, * Daughter, I give thee this man for thy 
slave.' The marriage, if uncontradicted report can be credited, 
made no addition to his happiness ; it neither found them, nor made 

them, equal Rowe's ballad of 'The Despairing Shepherd' is 

said to have been written, either before or after marriage, upon this 
memorable pair." — Dr. Johnson. 

" I received the news of Mr. Addison's being declared Secretary of 
State with the less surprise, in that I knew that post was almost 
offered to him before. At that time he declined it, and I really believe 
that he would have done well to have declined it now. Such a post as 
that, and such a wife as the Countess, do not seem to be, in prudence, 
eligible for a man that is asthmatic, and we may see the day when he 
will be heartily glad to resign them both." — Lady Wortlet Montagu 
TO Pope. Woi-Jcs, Lord Wharncliffe's edit., vol. ii. p. 111. 

The issue of this marriage was a daughter, Charlotte Addison, who 
inherited, on her mother's death, the estate of Bilton, near Rugby, 
which her father had purchased, and died, unmarried, at an advanced 
age. She was of weak intellect. 

Rowe appears to have been faithful to Addison during his 
courtship, for his Collection contains * Stanzas to Lady Warwick, on 



CONGEE YE AIN'D ADDISON". 95 



But it is not for liis reputation as the great author of 
"Cato" and the " Campaign," or for his merits as Secre- 
tary of State, or for his rank and high distinction as my 
Lady AVarwick's husband, or for his eminence as an 
Examiner of political questions on the Whig side, or a 
Guardian of British liberties, that we admire Joseph 
Addison. It is as a Tatler of small talk and a Sj^ec- 
tator of mankind, that we cherish and love him, and 
owe as much pleasure to him as to any human being 
that ever wrote. He came in that artificial age, and 
began to speak with his noble, natural voice. He came, 
the gentle satirist, who hit no unfair blow ; the kind 
judge who castigated only in smilmg. While Swift 
went about, hanging and ruthless — a literary Jeffries — 
in Addison's kind court only minor cases were tried : 
only peccadilloes and small sins against society : only a 



Mr. Addison's going to Ireland,' in which her ladyship is called 
' Chloe,' and Joseph Addison, ' Lycidas ; ' besides the ballad mentioned 
by the Doctor, and which is entitled ' Colin's Complaint.' But not 
even the interest attached to the name of Addison could induce the 
reader to peruse this composition, though one stanza may serve as a 
specimen : — 

"What though I have skill to complain — 
Though the Muses my temples have crowned ; 
What though, when they hear my sweet strain, 
The Muses sit weeping aroimd. 

" Ah, Colin ! thy hopes are in vain ; 
Thy pipe and thy laurel resign ; 
Thy false one inclines to a swain 
Whose music is sweeter than thine." 



96 ENGLISH HUMOITRISTS. 

dangerous libertinism in tuckers and lioops ; * or a 
nuisance in the abuse of beaux' canes and snuff-boxes. 



1 One of the most humorous of these is the paper on Hoops, which, 
the "Spectator" tells us, particularly pleased his friend Sir Roger. 

"Mr. Spectator, 

"You have diverted the town almost a whole month at the 
expense of the country ; it is now high time that you should give the 
country their revenge. Since your withdrawing from this place, the 
fair sex are run into great extravagancies. Their petticoats, which 
began to heave and swell before you left us, are now blown up into a 
most enormous concave, and rise every day more and more ; in short, 
Sir, since our women knew themselves to be out of the eye of the 
Spectator, they will be kept within no compass. You praised them a 
little too soon, for the modesty of their head-dresses ; for as the 
humour of a sick person is often driven out of one limb into another, 
their superfluity of ornaments, instead of being entirely banished, 
seems only fallen from their heads upon their lower parts. What 
they have lost in height they make up in breadth, and, contrary to all 
rules of architecture, widen the foundations at the same time that they 
shorten the superstructure. 

" The women give out, in defence of these wide bottoms, that they 
are very airy and very proper for the season ; but this I look upon to 
be only a pretence and a piece of art, for it is well known we have not 
had a more moderate summer these many years, so that it is certain 
the heat they complain of cannot be in the weather ; besides, I would 
fain ask these tender-constitutioned ladies, why they should require 
more cooling than their mothers before them 1 

" I find several speculative persons are of opinion that our sex has 
of late years been very saucy, and that the hoop-petticoat is made use 
of to keep us at a distance. It is most certain that a woman's honour 
cannot be better entrenched than after this manner, in circle within 
circle, amidst such a variety of out-works and lines of circumvallation. 
A female who is thus invested in whale-bone is sufficiently secured 
against the approaches of an ill-bred fellow, who might as well think of 
Sir George Etlieridge's way of making love in a tub as in the midst 
of so many hoops. 

"Among these various conjectures, there are men of superstitious 
tempers who look upon the hoop -petticoat as a kind of prodigy. Some 



CONGEE VE AND ADDISON. 97 

It may be a lady is tried for breaking the peace of 
our sovereign lady Queen Anne, and ogling too danger- 
ously from the side-box : or a Templar for beating the 
watch, or breaking Priscian's head : or a citizen's wife 
for caring too much for the puppet-show, and too Httle 
for her husband and children : every one of the little 
sinners brought before him is amusmg, and he dis- 
misses each with the pleasantest penalties and the 
most charming words of admonition. 

Addison wrote his papers as gaily as if he was going 
out for a hoHday. "When Steele's " Tatler " first began 
his prattle, Addison, then in Ireland, caught at his 
friend's notion, poured in paper after paper, and con- 
tributed the stores of his mind, the sweet fruits of his 
reading, the delightful gleanmgs of his daily observa- 
tion, with a wonderful profusion, and as it seemed an 
almost endless fecundity. He was six-and-thii'ty years 
old: full and ripe. He had not worked crop after 
crop from his brain, manurmg hastily, subsoiling indif- 
ferently, cutting and sowing and cutting agam, like 
other luckless cultivators of letters. He had not done 
much as yet ; a few Latin poems — graceful prolusions ; 



will have it that it portends the downfall of the French king, and 
observes, that the farthingale appeared in England a little before 
the ruin of the Spanish monarchy. Others are of opinion that it 
foretells battle and blood-shed, and believe it of the same prognosti- 
cation as the tail of a blazing star. For my part, I am apt to think 
that it is a sign that multitudes are coming into the world rather than 
going out of it," &c. kc— Spectator, No. 127. 

H 



98 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

a polite book of travels ; a dissertation on medals, not 
very deep ; four acts of a tragedy, a great classical 
exercise ; and the " Campaign," a large prize poem 
that won an enormous prize. But with his friend's 
discovery of the " Tatler," Addison's calling was found, 
and the most delightful tallver in the world began to 
speak. He does not go very deep : let gentlemen of a 
profound genius, critics accustomed to the plunge of the 
bathos, console themselves by thinking that he couldn't 
go very deep. There are no traces of suffering in his 
writing. He was so good, so honest, so healthy, so 
cheerfully selfish, if I must use the word. There is no 
deep sentiment. I doubt, until after his marriage, 
perhaps, whether he ever lost his night's rest or his 
day's tranquillity about any woman in his life : * whereas 
poor Dick Steele had capacity enough to melt, and to 
languish, and to sigh, and to cry his honest old ejes 
out, for a dozen. His writmgs do not show insight 
into or reverence for the love of women, which I take to 
be, one the consequence of the other. He walks about 
the world watchmg their pretty humours, fashions, 
follies, flirtations, rivalries ; and noting them with the 
most charming archness. He sees them in public, in the 
theatre, or the assembly, or the puppet-show; or at 
the toy- shop higgling for gloves and lace ; or at the 



^ " Mr. Addison has not liad one epitbalamium that I can hear of, 
and must even be reduced, like a poorer and a better poet, Spenser, 
to make his own." — Pope's Letters. 



CONGREVE AND ADDISON. 99 

auction, battling together over a blue porcelain dragon, 
or a darling monster in Japan ; or at church, eyeing 
the width of their rivals' hoops, or the breadth of their 
laces, as they sweep down the aisles. Or he looks out of 
liis window at the Garter in St. James's Street, at 
Ardeha's coach, as she blazes to the dra-wdng-room with 
her coronet and six footmen ; and remembering that 
her father was a Turkey merchant in the city, cal- 
culates how many sponges went to purchase her earring, 
and how many drums of figs to build her coach-box ; 
or he demurely watches behind a tree in Spring 
Garden as Saccharissa (whom he knows under her 
mask) trips out of her chair to the alley where Sir 
Fopling is waiting. He sees only the public life of 
women. Addison was one of the most resolute club- 
men of his day. He passed many hours daily in those 
haunts. Besides drinking, which alas ! is past praj^mg 
for ; you must know it, he owned, too, ladies, that he 
indulged in that odious practice of smoking. Poor 
fellow ! He was a man's man, remember. The only 
woman he did know, he didn't write about. I take it 
there would not have been much humour in that story. 
He lilves to go and sit in the smoking-room at the 
Grecian, or the Devil; to pace 'Change and the Mair — 
to mingle in that great club of the world — sitting alone 



^ " I have observed that a reader seldom peruses a book with 
pleasure till he knows whether the writer of it be a black or a fair 
man, of a mild or a choleric disposition, married or a bachelor; with 

H 2 



100 ENGLISH HUMOUEISTS. 

in it somehow: having good-will and kindness for 
every single man and woman in it — having need of 



otlier particulars of the like nature, that conduce very much to the 
right understanding of an author. To gratify this curiosity, which 
is so natural to a reader, I design this paper and my next as 
prefatory discourses to my following writings ; and shall give some 
account in them of the persons that are engaged in this work. As 
the chief trouble of compiling, digesting, and correcting will fall to 
my share, I must do myself the justice to open the work with my 

own history There runs a story in the family, that when 

my mother was gone with child of me about three months, she 
dreamt that she was brought to bed of a judge. Whether this might 
proceed from a lawsuit which was then depending in the family, 
or my father's being a justice of the peace, I cannot determine ; for 
I am not so vain as to think it presaged any dignity that I should 
arrive at in my future life, though that was the interpretation which 
the neighbourhood put upon it. The gravity of my behaviour at 
my very first appearance in the world, and all the time that I sucked, 
seemed to favour my mother's dream ; for, as she has often told me, I 
threw away my rattle before I was two months old, and would not 
make use of my coral till they had taken away the bells from it. 
"As for the rest of my infancy, there being nothing in it remarkable 
shall pass it over in silence. I find that during my nonage I had 
the reputation of a very sullen youth, but was always the favourite 
of my schoolmastei', who used to say that my parts xoere solid and 
would wear icell. I had not been long at the university before I 
distinguished myself by a most profound silence ; for during the 
space of eight years, excepting in the public exercises of the college, 
I scarce uttered the quantity of an hundred words ; and indeed, I do 
not remember that I ever spoke three sentences together in my whole 

life 

" I have passed my latter years in this city, where I am frequently 
seen in most public places, though there are not more than half-a-dozen 

of my select friends that know me There is no place of general 

resort wherein I do not often make my appearance ; sometimes I am 
seen thrusting my head into a round of politicians at Wills', and 
listening with great attention to the narratives that are made in these 
little circular audiences. Sometimes I smoke a pipe at Child's, and 
whilst I seem attentive to nothing but the Postman, overhear the 



CONGREVE AND ADDISON". 101 

some habit and custom binding him to some few ; 
never doing any man a wrong (unless it be a wrong to 
hint a little doubt about a man's parts, and to damn 
him with faint praise) ; and so he looks on the world 
and plays with the ceaseless humours of all of us — 
laughs the kindest laugh — points our neighbour's foible 
or eccentricity out to us with the most good-natured, 
smiling confidence ; and then, turning over his shoulder, 
whispers our foibles to our neighbour. What would Sir 
Roger de Coverley be without his follies and his charming 
little brain-cracks ? * If the good knight did not call 
out to the iDeople sleeping in church, and say " Amen " 



conversation of every table in the room. I appear on Tuesday night 
at St, James's Coffee-house; and sometimes join the little committee 
of politics in the inner room, as one who comes to hear and improve. 
My face is likewise very well known at the Grecian, the Cocoa-tree, 
and in the theatres both of Drury-lane and the Haymarket. I have 
been taken for a merchant upon the Exchange for above these two 
years ; and sometimes pass for a Jew in the assembly of stock-jobbers 
at Jonathan's. In short, whei-ever I see a cluster of people, I mix 
with them, though I never open my lips but in my own club. 

" Thus I live in the world rather as a ' Spectator'' of mankind than 
as one of the species ; by which means I have made myself a specu- 
lative statesman, soldier, merchant, and artizan, without ever meddling 
in any practical part in life. I am very well versed in the theory of a 
husband or a father, and can discern the errors in the economy, 
business, and diversions of others, better than those who are engaged 
in them — as standers-by discover blots which are apt to escape those 

who are in the game In short, I have acted, in all the parts 

of my life, as a looker-on, which is the character I intend to preserve 
in this paper." — Spectator, No. 1. 

^ " So effectually, indeed, did he retort on vice the mockery which 
had recently been directed against virtue, that, since his time, the open 
violation of decency has always been considered, amongst us, the sure 
mark of a fool." — Macau lay. 



102 E:t^GLISH HUMOURISTS. 

with sucli a delightful pomposity : if he did not make 
a speech in the assize-court apropos cle hottes, and 
merely to show his dignity to Mr. Spectator : * if 
he did not mistake Madam Doll Tearsheet for a 
lady of quality in Temple Garden : if he were 
wiser than he is : if he had not his humour to salt 
his life, and were but a mere English gentleman 
and game -preserver — of what worth were he to us ? 
We love him for his vanities as much as his virtues. 
What is ridiculous is delightful in him : we are so fond 
of him because we laugh at him so. And out of that 
laughter, and out of that sweet weakness, and out of 
those harmless eccentricities and follies, and out of 
that touched brain, and out of that honest manhood and 



^ " The Court was sat before Sir Roger came ; but, notwithstanding 
all the justices had taken their places upon the bench, they made 
room for the old knight at the head of them ; who for his reputation 
in the country took occasion to whisper in the judge's ear that he was 
glad hu lordship had met icith so much good weather in his circuit. I 
was listening to the proceedings of the Court with much attention, and 
infinitelj^ pleased with that great appearance and solemnity which so 
properly accompanies such a public administration of our laws ; when, 
after about an hour's sitting, I observe to my great surprise, in the 
midst of a trial, that my friend Sir Roger was getting i;p to speak. 
I was in some pain for him, till I found he had acquitted himself of 
two or three sentences, with a look of much business and great 
intrepidity, 

" Upon his first rising the Court was hushed, and a general whisper 
ran among the country people that Sir Roger was up. The speech he 
made was so little to the purpose, that I shall not trouble my readers 
with an account of it, and I believe was not so much designed by the 
knight himself to inform the Court, as to give him a figure in my eyes, 
and to keep up his credit in the country." — Spectator, No. 122. 



CONGEE VE AND ADDISON. 103 

simplicity — we get a result of happiness, goodness, 
tenderness, pity, piety; such as, if my audience will 
think their reading and hearing over, doctors and 
divines but seldom have the fortune to inspire. And 
why not ? Is the glory of Heaven to be sung only by 
gentlemen in black coats ? Must the truth be only 
expounded in gown and surplice, and out of those two 
vestments can nobody preach it ? Commend me to 
this dear preacher without orders — this parson in the 
tye-wig. When this man looks from the world whose 
weaknesses he describes so benevolently, up to the 
Heaven which shines over us all, I can hardly fancy 
a human face lighted up with a more serene rapture : a 
human intellect thrilhng with a purer love and adora- 
tion than Joseph Addison's. Listen to him : from 
your childhood you have known the verses : but who 
can hear their sacred music without love and awe ? 

" Soon as the evening shades prevail, 
The moon takes up the wondrous tale, 
And nightly to the listening earth, 
Repeats the story of her birth ; 
And all the stars that round her burn, 
And all the planets in their turn, 
Confirm the tidings as they roll. 
And spread the truth from pole to pole. 
What though, in solemn silence, all 
Move round this dark terrestrial ball ; 
What though no real voice nor sound, 
Among their radiant orbs be found ; 
In reason's ear they all rejoice, 
And utter forth a glorious voice, 
For ever singing as they shine. 
The hand that made us is divine." 



104 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

It seems to me those verses shine like the stars. 
They shine out of a great deep cahn. When he turns 
to Heaven, a Sabbath comes over that man's mind : 
and his face lights up from it with a glory of thanks 
and praj^er. His sense of religion stirs through his 
whole being. In the fields, in the town : looking at the 
birds in the trees : at the children in the streets : in 
the morning or in the moonlight : over his books in 
his own room : in a happy party at a country merry- 
making or a town assembly, good-will and peace to 
God's creatures, and love and awe of Him who made 
them, fill his pure heart and shine from his kind face. 
If Swift's life was the most wretched, I think Addison's 
was one of the most enviable. A life prosperous and 
beautiful — a calm death — an immense fame and affec- 
tion afterwards for his happy and spotless name.^ 



^ " Garth sent to Addison (of whom he had a very high opinion) on 
his death-bed, to ask him whether the Christian religion was true." — 
Dr. Young {Spence's Anecdotes). 

" I have always preferred cheerfulness to mirth. The latter I con- 
sider as an act, the former as an habit of the mind. Mirth is short and 
transient, cheerfulness fixed and permanent. Those are often raised 
into the greatest transports of mirth who are subject to the greatest 
depression of melancholy : on the contrary, cheerfulness, though it 
does not give the mind such an exquisite gladnesss, prevents us 
from falling into any depths of sorrow. Mirth is like a flash of light- 
ning that breaks throvigh a gloom of clouds, and glitters for a moment ; 
cheerfulness keeps up a kind of daylight in the mind, and fills it with 
a steady and perpetual serenity." — Addison {Spectator, p. 381.) 



LECTURE THE THIRD. 

STEELE. 

"What do we look for in studying the history of a 
past age ? Is it to learn the political transactions and 
characters of the leading public men ? is it to make 
ourselves acquainted with the life and being of the 
time ? If we set out with the former grave purpose, 
where is the truth, and who believes that he has it 
entke ? What character of what great man is known 
to you ? You can but make guesses as to character 
more or less happy. In common life don't you often 
judge and misjudge a man's whole conduct, setting out 
from a wrong impression ? The tone of a voice, a word 
said in joke, or a trifle in behaviour — the cut of his 
hair or the tie of his neckcloth may disfigure him in your 
eyes, or poison your good opinion ; or at the end of 
years of intimacy it may be your closest friend sajs 
something, reveals something which had previously 
been a secret, which alters all your views about him, 
and shows that he has been acting on quite a different 



106 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

motive to that Avliich 3^011 fancied you knew. And if it 
is so with those you know, how much more with those 
you don't know ? Say, for example, that I want to 
understand the character of the Duke of Marlborough. 
I read Swift's history of the times in which he took a 
part ; the shrewdest of observers and initiated, one 
would think, into the politics of the age — he hints to 
me that Marlborough was a coward, and even of doubt- 
ful military capacity : he speaks of Walpole as a 
contemptible boor, and scarcely mentions, except to 
flout it, the great intrigue of the Queen's latter days, 
which was to have ended in bringing back the Pre- 
tender. Again, I read Marlborough's life by a copious 
archdeacon, who has the command of immense papers, 
of sonorous language, of what is called the best infor- 
mation ; and I get little or no insight into this secret 
motive which I believe influenced the whole of Marl- 
borough's career, which caused his turnings and wind- 
ings, his opportune fidelity and treason, stopped his 
army almost at Paris gate, and landed him finally on 
the Hanoverian side — the winning side ; I get, I say, 
no truth or only a portion of it in the narrative of 
either writer, and believe that Cox's portrait or Swift's 
portrait is quite unlike the real Churchill. I take this 
as a single instance, prepared to be as sceptical about 
any other, and say to the Muse of History, " vener- 
able daughter of Mnemosyne, I doubt every single 
statement you ever made since j^our ladyship was a 



STEELE. 107 

Muse ! For all your grave airs and high pretensions, 
you are not a whit more trustworthy than some of your 
lighter sisters on whom your partisans look down. 
You bid me listen to a general's oration to his soldiers. 
Nonsense ! He no more made it than Turpin made his 
dying speech at Newgate. You pronounce a panegyric 
of a hero ; I doubt it, and say you flatter outrageously. 
You utter the condemnation of a loose character ; I 
doubt it, and think you are prejudiced and take the 
side of the Dons. You offer me an autobiography ; I 
doubt all autobiographies I ever read except those, 
perhaps, of Mr. Eobinson Crusoe, Mariner, and writers 
of his class. These have no object in setting them- 
selves right with the public or their own consciences, 
these have no motive for concealment or half truths, 
these call for no more confidence than I can cheerfully 
give, and do not force me to tax my credulity or 
to fortify it by evidence. I take up a volume of 
Dr. Smollett, or a volume of the " Spectator," and say 
the fiction carries a greater amount of truth in solution 
than the volume which purports to be all true. Out of 
the fictitious book I get the expression of the life of the 
time ; of the manners, of the movement, the dress, the 
pleasures, the laughter, the ridicules of societ}' — the 
old times live again, and I travel in the old country of 
England. Can the heaviest historian do more for 
me ? 

As we read in these delightful volumes of the " Tatler" 



108 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

and " Spectator," the past age returns, the England of 
our ancestors is revivified. The May- pole rises in the 
Strand again in London ; the churches are thronged 
with daily worshippers ; the beaux are gathering in the 
coffee-houses — the gentry are going to the Drawing- 
room — the ladies are thronging to the toy- shops — the 
chairmen are jostling in the streets — the footmen are 
running with links before the chariots, or fighting round 
the theatre doors. In the country I see the young 
Squire riding to Eton with his servants behind him, 
and Will Wimble, the friend of the family, to see him 
safe. To make that journey from the Squire's and 
back. Will is a week on horseback. The coach takes 
five days between London and the Bath. The judges and 
the bar ride the circuit. If my lady comes to town in 
her post- chariot, her people carry pistols to fire a 
salute on Captain Macheath if he should appear, and 
her couriers ride a-head to prepare apartments for her 
at the great caravanserais on the road ; Boniface 
receives her under the creaking sign of the Bell or the 
Ram, and he and his chamberlains bow her up the 
great stair to the state -apartments, whilst her carriage 
rumbles into the court-yard, where the Exeter Fly is 
housed that performs the journey in eight days God 
willing, having achieved its daily flight of twenty miles, 
and landed its passengers for supper and sleep. The 
curate is taking his pipe in the kitchen, where the 
Captain's man — having hung up his master's half pike 



STEELE. 109 



— is at his bacon and eggs, bragging of Ramillies and 
Malplaquet to the town's -folk, who have their chib in 
the chimney-corner. The Captain is ogling the 
chambermaid in the wooden gallery, or bribing her to 
know who is the pretty young mistress that has come 
in the coach ? The pack-horses are in the great stable, 
and the drivers and ostlers carousing in the tap. And in 
Mrs. Landlady's bar, over a glass of strong waters, sits 
a gentleman of military appearance who travels with 
pistols, as all the rest of the world does, and has a rattling 
grey mare in the stables which will be saddled and 
away with its owner half-an-hour before the " Fly " 
sets out on its last day's flight. And some five miles 
on the road, as the Exeter Fly comes jingling and 
creaking onwards, it will suddenly be brought to a halt 
by a gentleman on a grey mare, with a black vizard on 
his face, who thrusts a long pistol into the coach- 
window, and bids the company to hand out their purses. 
... It must have been no small pleasure even to sit 
in the gTeat kitchen in those days and see the tide of 
human kind pass by. We arrive at places now, but 
we travel no more. Addison talks jocularly of a 
difference of manner and costume being quite per- 
ceivable at Staines, where there passed a young fellow 
" with a very tolerable periwig," though to be sure his 
hat was out of fashion, and had a Eamillies cock. I 
would have liked to travel in those days (being of that 
class of travellers who are proverbially pretty easy 



110 ENGLISH HUMOUEISTS. 

coram latro7iibus) and have seen my friend with the grey 
mare and the hlack vizard. Alas ! there always came 
a da}^ in the life of that warrior when it was the fashion 
to accompany him as he passed — without his black 
mask, and with a nosegay in his hand, accompanied by 
halberdiers and attended by the sheriff, — in a carriage 
without springs, and a clergyman jolting beside him 
to a spot close by Cumberland-gate and the Marble 
Arch, where a stone still records that here Tybm-n 
turnpike stood. What a change in a century ; in a few 
years ! Within a few yards of that gate the fields 
began : the fields of his exploits, behind the hedges of 
which he lurked and robbed. A great and wealthy 
city has grown over those meadows. Were a man 
brought to die there now, the windows would be closed 
and the inhabitants keep theii' houses in sickening 
horror. A hundred years back, people crowded to see 
that last act of a highwayman's Hfe, and make jokes on 
it. Swift laughed at him, grimly advising him to pro- 
vide a Holland shirt and white cap crowned with a 
crimson or black ribbon for his exit, to mount the 
cart cheerfully — shake hands with the hangman, and 
so — farewell. Gay wrote the most delightful ballads 
and made merry over the same hero. Contrast these 
with the writings of our present humourists ! Compare 
those morals and ours — those manners and ours ! 

We can't tell — you would not bear to be told the 
whole truth regarding those men and manners. You 



STEELE. Ill 



could no more suffer iii a British drawing-room, under 
the reign of Queen Victoria, a fine gentleman or fine 
lady of Queen Anne's time, or hear what they heard 
and said, than you would receive an ancient Briton. 
It is as one reads about savages, that one contemplates 
the wild ways, the barbarous feasts, the terrific pas- 
times, of the men of pleasure of that age. AVe have 
our fine gentlemen, and our "fast men;" permit me 
to give you an idea of one particularly fast nobleman 
of Queen Anne's days, whose biography has been 
preserved to us by the law reporters. 

In 1691, when Steele was a boy at school, my Lord 
Mohun was tried by his peers for the mui'der of 
William Mountford, comedian. In "Howell's State- 
Trials," the reader will find not only an edifying 
account of this exceedingly fast nobleman, but of the 
times and manners of those days. My lord's friend, a 
Captain Hill, smitten -^ith the charms of the beautiful 
Mrs. Bracegirdle, and anxious to marry her at all 
hazards, determined to carry her off, and for this 
purpose hired a hackney-coach with six horses, and a 
half-dozen of soldiers, to aid him in the storm. The 
coach with a pair of horses (the four leaders being in 
waitmg elsewhere) took its station opposite my Lord 
Craven's house in Drury-lane, by which door Mrs. 
Bracegirdle was to pass on her way from the theatre. 
As she passed in company of her mamma and a friend, 
Mr. Page, the Captam seized her by the hand, the 



112 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

soldiers hustled Mr. Page and attacked liim sword in 
hand, and Captain Hill and his noble friend endea- 
voured to force Madam Bracegirdle into the coach. 
Mr, Page called for help : the population of Drury-lane 
rose : it was impossible to effect the capture ; and 
bidding the soldiers go about their business, and the 
coach to drive off. Hill let go of his prey sulkily, and he 
waited for other opportunities of revenge. The man of 
whom he was most jealous was Will Mountford, the come- 
dian ; Will removed, he thought Mrs. Bracegirdle might 
be his : and accordingly the Captain and his lordship lay 
that night in wait for Will, and as he was coming out 
of a house in Norfolk Street, while Mohun engaged 
him in talk. Hill, in the words of the Attorney- General, 
made a pass and run him clean through the body. 

Sixty-one of my lord's peers finding him not guilty 
of murder, while but fourteen found him guilty, this 
very fast nobleman was discharged : and made his 
appearance seven years after in another trial for 
murder — when he, my Lord Warwick, and three gentle- 
men of the military profession were concerned in the 
fight which ended in the death of Captain Coote. 

This jolly company were drinking together at 
Lockit's in Charing Cross, when angry words arose 
between Captain Coote and Captain French; whom 
my Lord Mohun and my lord the Earl of Warwick ^ and 



1 The husband of the Lady Warwick, who married Addison, and the 
father of the young Earl, who was brought to his step -father's bed to 



STEELE. 1 1 3 



Holland endeavoured to pacify. My Lord "Warwick 
was a dear friend of Captain Coote, lent him a hundred 
pound to buy his commission in the Guards ; once 
when the captain was arrested for 13L by his tailor, my 
lord lent him five guineas, often paid his reckoning for 
him, and showed him other offices of friendship. On 
this evening the disputants, French and Coote, being 
separated whilst the}^ were upstairs, unluckily stopped 
to drink ale again at the bar of Locket's. The row 
began afresh — Coote lunged at French over the bar, 
and at last all six called for chairs, and went to 
Liecester-fields, where they fell to. Their lordships 
engaged on the side of Captain Coote. My Lord of 
Warwick was severely wounded in the hand, Mr. 
French also was stabbed, but honest Captain Coote 
got a couple of wounds — one especialty, " a wound m 
the left side just under the short ribs, and piercing 
through the diaphragma," which did for Captain Coote. 



see '•'how a Christian could die." He was amongst the wildest of the 
nobility of that day ; and in the curious collection of Chap-Books at 
the British Museum, I have seen more than one anecdote of the freaks 
of the gay Lord. He was popular in London, as such daring spirits 
have been in our time. The anecdofcists speak very kindly of his 
practical jokes. Mohun was scarcely out of prison for his second 
homicide, when he went on Lord Macclesfield's embassy to the elector 
of Hanover, when Queen Anne sent the garter to H. E. Highness. 
The chronicler of the expedition speaks of his lordship as an amiable 
young man, who had been in bad company, but was quite repentant 
and reformed. He and Macartney afterwards murdered the Duke of 
Hamilton between them, in which act Lord Mohun died. This amiable 
baron's name was Charles, and not Henry, as a recent novelist has 
christened him. 

I 



114 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

Hence the trial of my Lords Warwick and Mohun : 
hence the assemblage of peers, the report of the trans- 
action, in which these defunct fast men still live for the 
observation of the curious. My Lord of Warwick is 
brought to the bar by the Deputy Governor of the 
Tower of London, having the axe carried before him 
by the gentleman gaoler, who stood with it at the bar 
at the right hand of the prisoner, turning the edge from 
him ; the prisoner, at his approach, making three bows, 
one to his Grace the Lord High- Steward, the other to 
the peers on each hand ; and his Grace and the peers 
return the salute. And besides these great personages, 
august in periwigs, and nodding to the right and left, 
a host of the small come up out of the past and pass 
before us — the jolly captains brawhng in the tavern and 
laughing and cursing over their cups — the drawer that 
serves, the bar-girl that waits, the bailiff on the prowl, 
the chairmen trudging through the black lampless 
streets, and smoking their pipes by the railings, 
whilst swords are clashing in the garden within. 
" Help there ! a gentleman is hurt : " the chairmen put 
up their pipes, and help the gentleman over the railings, 
and carry him, ghastly and bleeding, to the Bagnio 
in Long Acre, where they knock up the surgeon — a 
pretty tall gentleman — but that wound under the short 
ribs has done for him. Surgeon, lords, captains, 
bailiffs, chairmen, and gentleman gaoler with your axe, 
w4iere be you now ? The gentleman axeman's head is 



STEELE. ] 15 

off his o\Yn slioulclers ; the lords and judges can wag 
theirs no longer ; the hailiff's writs have ceased to run ; 
the honest chau*men's pipes are put out, and with their 
brawny calves they have walked away into Hades — 
all as irrecoverably done for as Will Mountford or 
Captain Coote. The subject of our night's lecture 
saw all these people — rode in Captain Coote's company 
of the Guards very probably — wrote and sighed for 
Bracegirdle, went home tipsy in many a chair, after 
many a bottle, in many a tavern — fled from many a 
baihff. 

In 1709, when the publication of the " Tatler" began, 
our great-great-grandfathers must have seized upon 
that new and delightful paper, with much such eager- 
ness as lovers of Hght literature in a later day 
exhibited when the Waverley novels appeared, upon 
which the public rushed, forsaking that feeble enter- 
tainment of which the Miss Porters, the Anne of 
Swanseas, and worthy Mrs. Eadcliffe herself, with her 
dreary castles, and exploded old ghosts, had had 
pretty much the monopoly. I have looked over many 
of the comic books mth which our ancestors amused 
themselves, from the novels of Swift's coadjutrix, 
Mrs. Manley, the detestable author of the " New 
Atlantis," to the facetious productions of Tom Dm-fey 
and Tom Brown, and Ned Ward, writer of the " London 
Spy," and several other volumes of ribaldry. The 

slang of the taverns and ordinaries, the wit of the 

I 2 



116 ENGLISH HUMOUEISTS. 

Bagnios, form the strongest part of the farrago of 
which these lihels are composed. In the excellent 
newspaper collection at the British Museum, you may 
see besides the " Craftsmen" and " Postboy" specimens, 
and queer specimens they are, of the higher literature 
of Queen Anne's time. Here is an abstract from a 
notable journal bearing date, Wednesday, October 13th, 
1708, and entitled "The British Apollo; or, curious 
amusements for the ingenious, by a society of gentle- 
men." The British Apollo invited and professed to 
answer questions upon all subjects of wit, morality, 
science, and even religion ; and two out of its four 
pages are filled with queries and replies much like 
some of the oracular pennj^-prints of the present time. 
One of the first querists, referring to the passage 
that a bishop should be thehusbandof one wife, argues 
that potygamy is justifiable in the laity. The society 
of gentlemen conducting the " British Apollo " are 
posed by this casuist, and promise to give him an 
answer. Celinda then wishes to know from " the 
gentlemen," concerning the souls of the dead, whether 
they shall have the satisfaction to know those whom 
they most valued in this transitory life. The gentle- 
men of the Apollo give but cold comfort to poor 
Celinda. They are inclined to think not : for snj they, 
since every inhabitant of those regions will be infinitely 
dearer than here are our nearest relatives — what have 
we to do with a partial friendship in that happy place ? 



STEELE. 117 



Poor Celinda ! it may have been a child or a lover 
whom she had lost, and was pining after, when the 
oracle of " British Apollo " gave her this dismal 
answ^er. She has solved the question for herself by 
this time, and knows quite as well as the society of 
gentlemen. 

From theology we come to physic, and Q. asks, 
" Why does hot water freeze sooner than cold ? " 
Apollo replies, " Hot water cannot be said to freeze 
sooner than cold, but water once heated and cold, may 
be subject to freeze by the evaporation of the spirituous 
parts of the water, which renders it less able to withstand 
the power of frosty weather." 

The next query is rather a delicate one. " You, Mr. 
Apollo, who are said to be the God of wisdom, pray 
give us the reason why kissing is so much in fashion : 
what benefit one receives by it, and who was the 
inventor, and you will oblige Corinna." To this queer 
demand the lips of Phoebus, smiling, answer : " Pretty 
innocent Corinna ! Apollo owns that he was a little 
surprised by your kissing question, particularly at that 
part of it where you desire to know the benefit you 
receive by it. Ah ! madam, had you a lover, you would 
not come to ApoUo for a solution ; since there is no 
dispute but the kisses of mutual lovers give infinite 
satisfaction. As to its invention 'tis certain nature 
was its author, and it began with the first courtship." 

After a column more of questions, follow nearly two 



lis ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

pages of poems, signed by Pliilancler, Armenia, and the 
like, and chiefly on the tender passion ; and the paper 
wound up with a letter from Leghorn, an account of the 
Duke of Marlborough and Prince Eugene before Lille, 
and proposals for pubhshing two sheets on the present 
state of Ethiopia, by Mr. Hill ; all of which is printed 
for the authors by J. Mayo, at the Printing Press 
against Water Lane in Fleet Street, What a change 
it must have been — how Apollo's oracles must have 
been struck dumb, when the " Tatler" appeared, and 
scholars, gentlemen, men of the world, men of genius, 
began to speak ! 

Shortly before the Boyne was fought, and young 
Swift had begun to make acquaintance with English 
court manners and English servitude, in Sir William 
Temple's family, another Irish youth was brought to 
learn his humanities at the old school of Charterhouse, 
near Smithiield; to which foundation he had been 
appointed by James Duke of Ormond, a governor of 
the House, and a patron of the lad's family. The boy 
was an orphan, and described, twenty years after, with 
a sweet pathos and simplicity, some of the earhest 
recollections of a life which was destined to be chequered 
by a strange variety of good and evil fortune. 

I am afraid no good report could be given by his 
masters and ushers of that thick-set, square-faced, 
black-eyed, soft-hearted little Irish boy. He was very 
idle. He was whipped deservedly a great number of 



STEELE. 119 

times. Though he had very good parts of his own, he 
got other boys to do his lessons for him, and only took 
just as much trouble as should enable him to scuffle 
through his exercises, and by good fortune escape the 
flogging block. One hundred and fifty years after, I have 
myself inspected, but only as an amateur, that instru- 
ment of righteous torture still existing, and in occa- 
sional use, in a secluded private apartment of the old 
Charterhouse School ; and have no doubt it is the 
very counterpart, if not the ancient and interesting 
machine itself, at which poor Dick Steele submitted 
himself to the tormentors. 

Besides being very kind, lazy, and good-natured, this 
boy went invariably into debt with the tart-woman ; 
ran out of bounds, and entered into pecuniary, or 
rather promissory engagements with the neighbouring 
lollipop -vendors and piemen- — exliibited an early fond- 
ness and capacity for drinking mum and sack, and 
borrowed from all his comrades who had money to 
lend. I have no sort of authority for the statements 
here made of Steele's early life; but if the child is 
father of the man, the father af young Steele of Merton, 
who left Oxford without taking a degree and entered the 
Life Guards — the father of Captain Steele of Lucas's 
Fusiliers, who got his company through the patronage 
of my Lord Cutts — the father of Mr. Steele the com- 
missioner of Stamps, the editor of the *' Gazette," the 
*' Tatler," and " Spectator," the expelled member of 



120 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

parliament, and the author of the *' Tender Husband" 
and the " Conscious Lovers; " if man and boy resembled 
each other, Dick Steele the schoolboy must have been 
one of the most generous, good-for-nothing, amiable 
little creatures that ever conjugated the verb tupto I 
beat, tuptomai I am whipped, in any school in Great 
Britain. 

Almost every gentleman who does me the honour 
to hear me will remember that the very greatest cha- 
racter which he has seen in the course of his life, and 
the person to whom he has looked up with the greatest 
wonder and reverence, was the head boy at his school. 
The schoolmaster himself hardly inspires such an 
awe. The head boy construes as well as the school- 
master himself. When he begins to speak the hall is 
hushed, and every little boy listens. He writes off 
copies of Latin verses as melodiously as Virgil. He is 
good-natured, and, his own master-pieces achieved, 
pours out other copies of verses for other boys with 
an astonishing ease and fluency ; the idle ones only 
trembling lest they should be discovered on giving in 
their exercises, and whipped because their poems were 
too good. I have seen great men in my time, but 
never such a great one as that head-boy of my child- 
hood : we all thought he must be Prime Minister, and 
I was disappointed on meeting him in after life to find 
he was no more than six feet high. 

Dick Steele, the Charterhouse gownboy, contracted 



STEELE. 121 

such an admiration in the years of his childhood, and 
retained it faithfully through his life. Through the 
school and through the world, whithersoever his strange 
fortune led this erring, wayward, affectionate crea- 
ture, Josej^h Addison was always his head boy. 
Addison wrote his exercises. Addison did his best 
themes. He ran on Addison's messages : fagged for 
liim and blacked his shoes : to be in Joe's company 
was Dick's greatest pleasure ; and he took a sermon 
or a caning from his monitor with the most boundless 
reverence, acquiescence, and affection.* 

Steele found Addison a stately college Don at Oxford, 
and himself did not make much figure at this place. 
He wrote a comedy, which, by the advice of a friend, 
the humble fellow burned there ; and some verses which 
I dare say are as sublime as other gentlemen's compo- 
sitions at that age ; but being smitten with a sudden 
love for military glory, he threw up the cap and gown 
for the saddle and bridle, and rode privately in the 
Horse Guards, in the Duke of Ormond's troop — the 
second — and, probably, with the rest of the gentlemen 
of his troop, " all mounted on black horses with white 
feathers in their hats, and scarlet coats richly laced ;" 



^ "Steele had the greatest veneration for Addison, and used to show 
it, in all companies, in a particular manner. Addison, now and then, 
used to play a little upon them ; but he always took it well." — Pope 
(Spence's Anecdotes.) 

" Sir Richard Steele was the best-natured creature in the world : 
even in his worst state of health, he seemed to desire nothing but to 
please and be pleased." — Dr. Young (Spence's Anecdotes.) 



122 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

marcliecl by King William, iii Hyde Park, in November, 
1699, and a great show of the nobility, besides twenty 
thousand people, and above a thousand coaches. 
" The Guards had just got their new clothes," the 
" London Post" said : " they are extraordinary grand 
and thought to be the finest body of horse in the world." 
But Steele could hardly have seen any actual service. 
He who wrote about himself, his mother, his wife, his 
loves, his debts, his friends, and the wine he drank, 
would have told us of his battles if he had seen any. 
His old patron, Ormond, probably got him his cornetcy 
in the Guards, from which he was promoted to be a 
captain in Lucas's Fusiliers, getting his company 
through the patronage of Lord Cutts, whose secretary 
he was, and to whom he dedicated his work called the 
" Christian Hero." As for Dick, whilst writing this 
ardent devotional work, he was deep in debt, in drink, 
and in all the folhes of the town ; it is related that all 
the officers of Lucas's, and the gentlemen of the Guards, 
laughed at Dick.* And in truth a theologian in liquor 



^ The gaiety of liis dramatic tone may be seen in this little scene 
between two brilliant sisters, from his comedy, The Funeral, or Grief a 
la Mode. Dick wrote this, he said, from *' a necessity of enlivening his 
character," which it seemed, the " Christian Hero " had a tendency to 
make too decorous, gi-ave, and respectable, in the eyes of readers of 
that pious piece. 

\_" Scene draxos, and discovers Lady Charlotte, reading at a tahle, — 
Lady Harriet, playing at a glass, to and fro, and viewing herself] 

" L. Ha. — Nay, good sister, you may as well talk to me, [looking at 



STEELE. 123 

is not a respectable object, and a hermit though he 
may be out at elbows must not be in debt to the tailor. 

herself as she sj^ealcs'] as sit staring at a book which I know you can't 
attend. — Good Dr. Lucas may have writ there what he pleases, but 
there's no putting Francis, Lord Hardy, now Earl of Brumpton, out of 
your head, or making him absent from your eyes. Do but look on me, 
now, and deny it if you can. 

" L. Ch. — You are the maddest girl [smiling.'] 

" L. Ha. — Look ye, I knew you could not say it and forbear laughing 
— \loolcing over Charlotte.'] — Oh! I see his name as plain as you do — 
F — r — a — n, Fran, — c — i — s, cis, Francis, 'tis in every line of the book. 

"i. Cli. — [Rising], It's in vain, I see, to mind anything in such 
impertinent company — but granting t'were as you say, as to my Lord 
Hardy — t'is more excusable to admire another, than oneself. 

" L. Ha. — No, I think not — yes, I grant you, than really to be vain of 
one's person, but I don't admire myself — Pish ! I don't believe my eyes 
to have that softness. [Looking in the glass.] They an't so piercing : 
no t'is only stuff, the men will be talking. — Some people are such 
admu'ers of teeth — Lord, what signifies teeth ! {Shotving her teeth.) A 
very black-a-moor has as white a set of teeth as I — No, sister, I don't 
admire myself, but I've a spirit of contradiction in me : I don't know 
I'm in love with myself, only to rival the men, 

" L. Ch. — Ay, but Mr. Campley will gain ground ev'n of that rival of 
his, your dear self. 

" L. Ha. — Oh, what have I done to you, that you should name that 
insolent intruder ? A confident opinionative fop. — No indeed, if I am, 
as a poetical lover of mine sighed and sung of both sexes. 

The public envy and the public care, 

I shan't be so easily catched— I thank him — I want but to be sure, I 
should heartily torment him by banishing him, and then consider 
whether he should depart this life or not. 

" L. Ch. — Indeed, sister, to be serious with you, this vanity in your 
humour does not at all become you. 

" L. Ha. — Vanity ! All the matter is, we gay people are more sincere 
than you wise folks : all your life's an art. — Speak you real. — Look you 
there. — [Hauling her to the glass.] Are you not struck with a secret 
pleasure when yoii view that bloom in your look, that harmony in your 
shape, that promptitude in your mien ? 



124 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

Steele says of himself that he was always sinning and 
repenting. He beat his breast and cried most piteously 
when he did repent : but as soon as crying had made 
him thirsty, he fell to sinning again. In that charming 
paper in the " Tatler," in which he records his father's 
death, his mother's griefs, his own most solemn and 
tender emotions, he says he is interrupted by the 
arrival of a hamper of wine, " the same as is to be sold 
at Garraway's, next week," upon the receipt of which 
he sends for three friends, and they fall to instantly, 
"drinking two bottles a-piece, with great benefit to 
themselves, and not separating till two o'clock in the 
morning." 

His life was so. Jack the drawer was always inter- 
rupting it, bringing him a bottle from the " Rose," or 
inviting him over to a bout there with Sir Plume and 
Mr. Diver ; and Dick wiped his eyes, which were whim- 
pering over his papers, took down his laced hat, put on 

" L. Ch. — Well, simpleton, if I am at first so simple as to be a little 
taken with myself, I know it a fault, and take pains to correct it. 

" L. iTa.— Phsaw ! Plisaw ! Talk this musty tale to old Mrs. 
Fardingale, 'tis tiresome for me to think at that rate. 

" L. Ch. — They that think it too soon to understand themselves will 
very soon find it too late. — But tell me honestly, don't you like Campley 1 

" L. ZTa.— The fellow is not to be abhorred, if the forward thing did 
not think of getting me so easily. — Oh I hate a heart I can't break when 
I please. — What makes the value of dear china, but that 'tis so brittle] 
— were it not for that, you might as well have stone mugs in your 
closet. — The Funeral, Oct. 2nd. 

*' We knew the obligations the stage had to his writings [Steele's] ; 
there being scarcely a comedian of merit in our whole company whom 
his " Tatlers " had not made better by his recommendation of them." — 

ClBBER. 



STEELE. 125 

his sword and wig, kissed his wife and children, told 
them a lie about pressing business, and went off to the 
" Rose " to the jolly fellows. 

While Mr. Addison was abroad, and after he came 
home in rather a dismal way to wait upon Providence 
in his shabby lodging in the Haymarket, young Captain 
Steele was cutting a much smarter figure than that of 
his classical friend of Charterhouse Cloister, and 
Maudlin Walk. Could not some painter give an inter- 
view between the gallant captain of Lucas's, with his 
hat cocked, and his lace, and his face too, a trifle tar- 
nished with drink, and that poet, that philosopher, pale, 
proud, and poor, his friend and monitor of school days, 
of all days ? How Dick must have bragged about his 
chances and his hopes, and the fine company he kept, 
and the charms of the reigning toasts and popular 
actresses, and the number of bottles that he and my 
lord and some other pretty fellows had cracked over 
night at the " Devil," or the " Garter ! " Cannot one 
fancy Joseph Addison's calm smile and cold grey eyes 
following Dick for an instant, as he struts down the 
Mall, to dine with the Guard, at St. James's, before he 
turns, with his sober pace and thread-bare suit, to walk 
back to his lodgings up the two pair of stairs ? Steele's 
name was down for promotion, Dick alwaj^s said 
himself, in the glorious, pious, and immortal William's 
last table-book. Jonathan Swift's name had been 
written there by the same hand too. 



126 ENGLISH HUMOUEISTS. 

Our worthy friend, the author of the " Christian 
Hero," continued to make no small figure about town 
by the use of his wits.' He was appointed Gazetteer : 
he wrote, in 1703, " The Tender Husband," his second 
j)lay, in which there is some delightful farcical writing, 
and of which he fondly owned in after-hfe, and when 
Addison was no more, that there were " many applauded 
strokes " from Addison's beloved hand.'* Is it not a 
pleasant partnership to remember ? Can't one fancy 
Steele, full of spirits and youth, leaving his gay 
company to go to Addison's lodging, where his friend 
sits in the shabby sitting-room, quite serene, and 
cheerful, and poor? In 1704 Steele came on the 



^ " There is not now in his sight that excellent man whom Heaven 
made his friend and superior to be at a certain place in pain for what 
he should say or do. I will go on in his further encouragement. The 
best woman that ever man had cannot now lament and pine at his 
neglect of himself."— Steele [of himself]. The Theatre. No. 12, 
Feb. 1719-20. 

2 "The Funeral" supplies an admirable stroke of humour, — one 
which Sydney Smith has used as an illustration of the faculty in his 
Lectures. 

The undertaker is talking to his employh about their duty. 

Salle. — " Ha, you ! — A little more upon the dismal [forming their 
countenances] ; this fellow has a good mortal look, — place him near the 
corpse : that wainscot- face must be o' top of the stairs ; that fellow's 
almost in a fright (that looks as if he were full of some strange misery) 
at the end of the hall. So — But I'll fix you all myself. Let's have no 
laughing now on any provocation. Look yonder, — that hale, well- 
looking puppy ! You ungrateful scoundrel, did not I pity you, take 
you out of a great man's service, and show you the pleasui-e of receiv- 
ing wages ? Did not I give you ten, then fifteen^ and tiventy shillings 
a week to he sorrowful ? — and the more I give you, I think the gladder you 
are/" 



STEELE. 127 

town with another comedy, and behold, it was so 
moral and religious, as poor Dick insisted, so dull 
the town thought, that the " Lying Lover " was 
damned. 

Addison's hour of success now came, and he was 
able to help our friend, the " Christian Hero," in such 
a way, that, if there had been any chance of keeping 
that poor tipsy champion upon his legs, his fortune 
was safe, and his competence assured. Steele pro- 
cured the place of Commissioner of Stamps : he wrote 
so richly, so gracefully often, so kindly always, with 
such a pleasant wit and easy frankness, with such a 
gush of good spirits and good humour, that his early 
papers may be compared to Addison's own, and are to 
be read, by a male reader at least, with quite an equal 
pleasure.' 

1 ^'Froni my oivn Apartment, Nov. 16. 

" There are several persons who have many pleasures and entertain- 
ments in their possession, which they do not enjoy ; it is, therefore, 
a kind and good office to acquaint them with their own happiness, and 
turn their attention to such instances of their good fortune as they 
are apt to overlook. Persons in the married state often want such a 
monitor; and pine away their days by looking upon the same condition 
in anguish and murmuring which carries with it, in the opinion of 
others, a comj)lication of all the pleasures of life, and a retreat from 
its inqviietudes, 

" I am led into this thought by a visit I made to an old friend 
who was formerly my school-fellow. He came to town last week, 
with his family, for the winter ; and yesterday morning sent me word 
his wife expected me to dinnex\ I am, as it were, at home at that 
house, and every member of it knows me for their well-wisher. I 
cannot, indeed, express the pleasure it is to be met by the children 
with so much joy as I am when I go thither. The boys and girls 



128 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 



After the " Tatler," in 1711, the famous "Spectator" 
made its appearance, and this was followed, at various 



strive who shall come first, -when they think it is I that am 
knocking at the door ; and that child which loses the race to me runs 
back again to tell the father it is Mr. BickerstafF. This day I was led 
in by a pretty girl that we all thought must have forgot me ; for the 
family has been out of town these two years. Her knowing me again 
was a mighty subject with us, and took up our discourse at the first 
entrance ; after which, tliey begun to rally me upon a thousand little 
stories they heard in the country, about my marriage to one of my 
neighbours' daughters ; upon which, the gentleman, my friend, said, 
'Nay, if Mr. Bickerstaff marries a child of any of his old companions, 
I hope mine shall have the preference : there is Mrs. Mary is now 
sixteen, and would make him as fine a widow as the best of them. 
But I know him too well ; he is so enamoured viith the very memoiy 
of those who floui'ished in our youth, that he will not so much as 
look upon the modern beauties. I remember, old gentleman, how 
often you went home in a day to refresh your countenance and dress 
when Teraminta reigned in yoiir heart. As we came up in the coach, 
I repeated to my \rife some of your verses on her.' With such 
reflections on little passages which happened long ago, we passed 
our time during a cheerful and elegant meal. After dinner his lady 
left the room, as did also the children. As soon as we were alone, he 
took me by the hand : ' Well, my good friend,' says he, ' I am heartily 
glad to see thee; I was afraid you would never have seen all the 
company that dined with you to-day again. Do not you think the 
good woman of the house a little altered since you followed her from 
the playhouse to find out who she was for me ]' I perceived a tear 
fall down his cheek as he spoke, which moved me not a little. But, 
to turn the discourse, I said, 'She is not, indeed, that creature she 
was when she i-eturned me the letter I carried from you, and told me, 
"She hoped, as I was a gentleman, I would be employed no more to 
trouble her, who had never ofi"ended me ; but would be so much the 
gentleman's friend as to dissuade him from a pursuit which he could 
never succeed in." You may remember I thought her in earnest, and 
you were forced to employ 3-our cousin Will, who made his sister get 
acquainted with her for you. You cannot expect her to be for ever 
fifteen.' 'Fifteen!' replied my good friend. 'Ah! you little inider- 
stand — you, that have lived a bachelor — how givat, how exquisite a 



STEELE. 129 



intervals, by many periodicals under the same editor — 
the " Guardian "—the " Englishman "—the " Lover," 



pleasure there is in being really beloved ! It is impossible that the 
most beauteous face in nature should raise in me such pleasing ideas 
as when I look upon that excellent woman. That fading in her 
countenance is chiefly caused by her watching with me in my fever. 
This was followed by a fit of sickness, which had like to have carried 
me off" last winter. I tell you, sincerely, I have so many obligAticns to 
her that I cannot, with any sort of moderation, think of her present 
state of health. But, as to what you say of fifteen, she gives me 
every day pleasure beyond what I ever knew in the possession of her 
beauty when I was in the vigour of youth. Every moment of her 
life brings me fresh instances of her complacency to my inclina- 
tions, and, her pi'udence in regard to my fortune. Her face is to me 
much more beautiful than when I first saw it ; there is no decay in 
any feature which I cannot trace from the very instant it was occasioned 
by some anxious concern for my welfare and interests. Thus, at the 
same time, me thinks, the love I conceived towards her for what she 
was, is heightened by my gratitude for what she is. The love of a 
wife is as much above the idle passion commonly called by that name, 
as the loud laughter of buffoons is inferior to the elegant mirth of 
gentlemen. Oh ! she is an inestimable jewel ! In her examination of 
her household affairs, she shows a certain fearfulness to find a fault, 
which makes her servants obey her like children ; and the meanest we 
have has an ingenuous shame for an offence not always to be seen in 
children in other families. I speak freely to you, my old friend ; ever 
since her sickness, things that gave me the quickest joy before turn 
now to a certain anxiety. As the children play in the next room, I 
know the poor things by their steps, and am considering what they 
must do should they lose their mother in their tender years. The 
pleasure I used to take in telling my boy stories of battles, and asking 
my girl questions about the disposal of her baby, and the gossipping 
of it, is turned into inward reflection and melancholy.' 

" He would have gone on in this tender way, when the good lady 
entered, and, with an inexpressible sweetness in her countenance, told 
us * she had been searching her closet for something very good, to 
treat such an old frieud as I was.' Her husband's eyes sparkled with 
pleasure at the cheerfulness of her countenance ; and I saw all his 
fears vanish in an instant. The lady observing something in our looks 

E 



130 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

whose love was rather insipid — the "Eeader," of whom 
the public saw no more after his second appearance — 



which showed we had been more serious than ordinary, and seeing her 
husband receive her with gi-eat concern under a forced cheerfulness, 
immediately guessed at what we had been talking of; and applying 
herself to me, said, with a smile, 'Mr. Bickerstaff, do not believe a 
word of what he tells you ; I shall still live to have you for my second, 
as I have often promised you, unless he takes more care of himself 
than he has done since his coming to town. You must know he tells 
me, that he finds London is a much more healthy place than the 
country ; for he sees several of his old acquaintances and school- 
fellows are here — young fellows tvith fair, full-bottomed j^enwigs. I could 
scarce keep him this morning from going out open-breasted.' My friend, 
who is always extremely delighted with her agreeable humour, made 
her sit down with us. She did it with that easiness which is peculiar 
to women of sense ; and to keep up the good humour she hjid brought 
in with her, turned her raillery upon me. 'Mr. Bickerstaff, you 
remember you followed me one night from the playhouse; suppose 
you should carry me thither to-morrow night, and lead me in the front 
box.' This put us into a long field of discourse about the beauties 
who were the mothers to the present, and shined in the boxes twenty 
years ago. I told her, ' I was glad she had transferred so many of her 
charms, and I did not question but her eldest daughter was within 
half-a-year of being a toast.' 

" We were pleasing ourselves with this fantastical preferment of the 
young lady when, on a sudden, we were alarmed with the noise of a 
drum, and immediately entered my little godson to give me a point of 
war. His mother, between laughing and chiding, would have put him 
out of the room ; but I would not part with him so. I found, upon 
conversation with him, though he was a little noisy in his mirth, that 
the child had excellent parts, and was a great master of all the learning 
on the other side of eight years old. I perceived him a very great 
historian in ' -^sop's Fables ; ' but he frankly declared to me his mind, 
' that he did not delight in that learning, because he did not believe 
they were true ; ' for which reason I found he had very much turned 
his studies, for about a twelvemonth past, into the lives of Don Bel- 
lianis of Greece, Guy of Warwick, ' the Seven Champions,' and other 
historians of that age. I could not but observe the satisfaction the 
father took in the forwardness of his son, and that these diversions 



STEELE. 131 

the " Theatre," under the pseudonym of Sir John 
Edgar, which Steele wrote, w^iile Governor of the 
Eoyal Company of Comedians, to which post, and to 
that of Surveyor of the Royal Stables at Hampton 
Court, and to the Commission of the Peace for 
Middlesex, and to the honour of knighthood, Steele 
had been preferred soon after the accession of George I., 
whose cause honest Dick had nobly fought, through 
disgrace and danger, against the most formidable 
enemies, against traitors and buihes, against Boling- 
broke and Swift, in the last reign. With the arrival of 
the King, that splendid conspiracy broke up ; and a 
golden opportunity came to Dick Steele, whose hand, 
alas, was too careless to gripe it. 



miglit turn to some profit. I found the boy had made remarks, which 
might be of sei'vice to him during the course of his whole life. He 
would tell you the mismanagement of John Hickerthrift, find fault 
with the passionate temper in Bevis of Southampton, and loved St. 
George for being the champion of England ; and by this means had 
his thoughts insensibly moulded into the notions of discretion, virtue, 
and honour. I was extolling his accomplisViments when his mother 
told me, ' that the little girl who led me in this morning was, in her 
way, a better scholar than he. Betty,' said she, ' deals chiefly in fairies 
and sprights ; and sometimes in a winter night will terrify the maids 
with her accounts, until they are afraid to go u.p to bed.' 

" I sat with them until it was very late, sometimes in merry, some- 
times in serious discourse, with this particular pleasure, which gives 
the only true relish to all conversation, a sense that every one of us 
liked each other. I went home, considering the different conditions 
of a married life and that of a bachelor ; and I must confess it struck 
me with a secret concern, to reflect, that whenever I go ofi" I shall 
leave no traces behind me. In this pensive mood I return to my 
family ; that is to say, to my maid, my dog, mj^ cat, who only can be 
the better or worse for what happens to me." — The Tatler. 

K 2 



132 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

Steele married twice ; and outlived liis places, his 
schemes, his wife, his income, his health, and almost 
everything but his kind heart. That ceased to trouble 
him in 1729, when he died, worn out and almost 
forgotten by his contemporaries in Wales, where he had 
the remnant of a property. 

Posterity has been kinder to this amiable creature ; 
all women especially are bound to be grateful to Steele, 
as he was the first of our waiters who really seemed to 
admire and respect them. Congreve the Great, who 
alludes to the low estimation in which women were 
held in Elizabeth's time, as a reason why the women 
of Shakspeare make so small a figure in the poet's 
dialogues, though he can himself pay splendid com- 
pliments to women, j^et looks on them as mere 
instruments of gallantry, and destined, like the most 
consummate fortifications, to fall, after a certain time, 
before the arts and bravery of the besieger, man. 
There is a letter of Swift's, entitled " Advice to a very 
Young Married Lady," wdiich shows the Dean's opinion 
of the female society of his day, and that if he despised 
man he utterly scorned women too. No lad}^ of our 
time could be treated by any man, were he ever so 
much a wit or Dean, in such a tone of insolent patronage 
and vulgar protection. In this performance. Swift 
hardly takes pains to hide his opinion that a woman is 
a fool : tells her to read books, as if reading was a 
novel accomplishment ; and informs her that " not one 



STEELE. 133 

gentleman's daughter in a thousand has been brought 
to read or understand her own natural tongue." 
Addison laughs at women equally; but, with the 
gentleness and x^oliteness of his nature, smiles at 
them and watches them, as if they were harmless, 
half-witted, amusing, pretty creatures, only made to be 
men's playthings. It was Steele who first began to 
pay a manly homage to their goodness and under- 
standing, as well as to their tenderness and beauty.' 
In his comedies, the heroes do not rant and rave 
about the divine beauties of Gloriana or Statira, as 
the characters were made to do in the chivalry 
romances and the high-flown dramas just going out of 
vogue, but Steele admu^es women's virtue, acknow- 
ledges their sense, and adores their purity and beauty, 
with an ardour and strength which should win the 
good will of all women to their hearty and respect- 
ful champion. It is this ardour, this respect, this 



^ " As to the pursioits after affection and esteem, the fair sex are 
happy in this particular, that with them the one is much more nearly- 
related to the other than in men. The love of a woman is inseparable 
from some esteem of her ; and as she is naturally the object of affec- 
tion, the woman who has your esteem has also some degree of your 
love. A man that dotes on a woman for her beauty, will whisper 
his friend, ' that creature has a great deal of wit when you are well 
acquainted with her.' And if you examine the bottom of your esteem 
for a woman, you will find you have a greater opinion of her beauty 
than anybody else. As to us men, I design to pass most of my time 
with the facetious Harry Bickerstaff; but William Bickerstaff, the 
most prudent man of our family, shall be my executor." — Tatler, 
No. 206. 



134 ENGLISH HUMOUEISTS. 

manliness, which makes his comedies so pleasant and 
their heroes such fine gentlemen. He paid the finest 
compliment to a woman that perhaps ever was offered. 
Of one woman, whom Congreve had also admired and 
celebrated, Steele says, that "to have loved her was 
a liberal education." " How often," he says, dedicating 
a volume to his wife, " how often has your tenderness 
removed pain from my sick head, how often anguish 
from my afflicted heart ! If there are such beings as 
guardian angels, they are thus employed. I cannot 
believe one of them to be more good in inclination, or 
more charming in form than my wife." His breast 
seems to warm and his eyes to kindle when he meets 
with a good and beautiful woman, and it is with his 
heart as well as with his hat that he salutes her. 
About children, and all that relates to home, he is not 
less tender, and more than once speaks in apology of 
what he calls his softness. He would have been 
nothing without that delightful weakness. It is that 
which gives his works theii' worth and his style its 
charm. It, like his life, is full of faults and careless 
blunders ; and redeemed, Hke that, by his sweet and 
compassionate nature. 

We possess of poor Steele's wild and chequered life 
some of the most curious memoranda that ever were 
left of a man's biography.' Most men's letters, from 



^ The Correspondence of Steele passed after his death into the 
possession of his daughter Elizabeth, by his second wife, Miss Scurlock, of 



STEELE. 135 

Cicero down to Walpole, or clown to the great men of 
oiu' own time, if you will, are doctored compositions, 



Carmarthensliire. She married the Hon. John, afterwards third Lord 
Trevor. At her death, part of the letters passed to Mr. Thomas, a 
grandson of a natural daughter of Steele's ; and part to Lady Trevor's 
next of kin, Mr. Scurlock. — They were published by the learned 
Nichols — from whose later edition of them, in 1809, our specimens are 
quoted. 

Here we have him, in his courtship — which was not a very long one. 

''Aug. 30,1707. 
to mrs. scurlock. 
" Madam, — 

" I beg pardon that my paper is not finer, but I am forced to 
write from a cofiee-bouse, where I am attending about business. There 
is a dirty crowd of busy faces all around me, talking of money ; while 
all my ambition, all my wealth is love ! Love which animates my 
heart, sweetens my humour, enlarges my soul, and afiects every action 
of my life. It is to my lovely charmer I owe, that many noble ideas 
are continually affixed to my words and actions ; it is the natural eff"ect 
of that generous passion to create in the admirer, some similitude of 
the object admired. Thus, my dear, am I every day to improve from 
so sweet a companion. Look up, my fair one, to that Heaven which 
made thee such ; and join with me to implore its influence on our 
tender innocent hours, and beseech the author of love to bless the rites 
he has ordained — and mingle with our happiness a just sense of our 
transient condition, and a resignation to His will, which only can 
regulate our minds to a steady endeavour to please Him and each 
other. 

"I am for ever your faithful servant, 

"Rich. Steele." 

Some few hours afterwards, apparently, Mistress Scurlock received 
the next one — obviously written later in the day ! 

"Saturday night {Aug. 30, 1707.) 
"Dear, Lovely, Mrs. Scurlock, — 

" I have been in very good company, where your health, under 
the character of the woman I loved best, has been often drunk ; so that 
I may say that I am dead drunk for your sake, which is more than / die 
for you. "Rich. Steele." 



136 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

and written with an eye suspicious towards posterity. 
That dedication of Steele's to his wife is an artificial 



TO MRS. SCURLOCK. 

" Sept. 1, 1707. 
"Madam, — 

" It is the hardest thing in the world to be in love, and yet 

attend business. As for me, all who speak to me find me out, and I 

must lock myself up, or other people will do it for me. 

"A gentleman asked me this morning, 'what news from Lisbon?' 

and I answered 'she is exquisitely handsome.' Another desii-ed to 

know ' when I had last been at Hampton Court ? ' I replied, 'it will be 

on Tuesday come se'nnnight.' Pry'thee allow me at least to kiss your 

hand before that day, that my mind may be in some composure. Oh 

Love ! 

" A thousand torments dwell about thee, 

Yet who could live, to live without thee ? " 

" Methinks I could write a volume to you ; but all the language on 
earth would fail in saying how much, and with what disinterested 
passion, " I am ever your's, 

"Rich. Steele."' 

Two days after this, he is found expounding his circumstances and 
prospects to the young lady's mamma. He dates from " Lord Sunder- 
land's office, Whitehall ; " and states his clear income at 1025^. per 
annum. " I promise myself," says he, "the pleasure of an industrious 
and virtuous life, in studying to do things agreeable to you." 

They were married, according to the most probable conjectures, 
about the 7th inst. There are traces of a tiff about the middle of the 
next month ; she being prudish and fidgetty, as he was impassioned and 
reckless. General progress, however, may be seen from the following 
notes. The "house in Bury-street, St. James's," was now taken. 

TO MRS. STEELE. 

" Oct. 16, 1707. 
"Dearest Being on Earth, — 

" Pardon me if you do not see me till eleven o'clock, having met 
a school-fellow from India, by whom I am to be informed on things this 
night which expressly concerns your obedient husband, 

"Rich. Steele." 



STEELE. 137 

performance, possibly ; at least, it is written with tiiat 
degree of artifice which an orator uses in arranging a 



TO MRS. STEELE. 

"Eifjht o'clod; Fountain Tavern, Oct. 22, 1707. 
"My Dear, — 

"I beg of you not to be uneasy ; for I have done agi'eat deal of 

business to-day very successfully, and wait an hour or two about my 

" Gazette." 

"Dec. 22, 1707. 
" My dear, dear Wife, — 

" I write to let you know I do not come home to dinner, being 

obliged to attend some business abroad, of which I shall give you an 

account (when I see you in the evening), as becomes your dutiful and 

obedient husband." 

" Devil Tavern, Temple-bar, 

"Jan. 3, 1707-8. 
" Dear Prue, — 

" I have partly succeeded in my business to-day, and inclose 

two guineas as earnest of more. Dear Prue, I cannot come home to 

dinner. I languish for your welfare, and will never be a moment 

careless more. 

" Yovir faithful husband," &c. 

"Jan. 14, 1707-8. 
" Dear Wife, — 

" Mr. Edgecomb, Ned Ask, and Mr. Lumley have desired me to 

sit an hour with them at the George, in Pall-mall, for which I desire 

your patience till twelve o'clock, and that you will go to bed," &c. 

" Gray's-inn, Feb. 3, 1708. 
"Dear Prue, — 

" If the man who has my shoemaker's bill calls, let him be 

answered that I shall call on him as I come home. I stay here in 

order to get Jonson to discount a bill for me, and shall dine with him 

for that end. He is expected at home every minute. 

" Your most humble obedient servant," &c. 

" Ttnnis-court Coffee-house, 31 ay 5, 1708. 
" Dear Wife, — 

" I hope I have done this day what will be pleasing to you ; in 

the meantime shall lie this night at a baker's, one Leg, over against 

the Devil Tavern, at Charing-cross. I shall be able to confi'ont the 



138 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

statement for the House, or a poet emploj^s in x)reparing 
a sentiment in verse or for the stage. But there are 
some 400 letters of Dick Steele's to his wife, which 
that thrifty woman preserved accurately, and which 
could have been written but for her and her alone. 
They contain details of the business, pleasures, quar- 
rels, reconciliations of the pair; they have all the 
genuineness of conversation ; they are as artless as a 
child's prattle, and as confidential as a curtain-lecture. 
Some are written from the printing-office, where he is 
waiting for the proof sheets of his " Gazette," or his 
" Tatler ; " some are written from the tavern, whence 
he promises to come to his wife " witliin a pint of 



fools who wish me uneasy, and shall have the satisfaction to see thee 
cheerful and at ease. 

" If the printer's boy be at home, send him hither ; and let Mrs. 
Todd send by the boy my night-gown, slippers, and clean linen. You 
shall hear from me early in the morning," &c. 

Dozens of similar letters follow, with occasional guineas, little 
parcels of tea, or walnuts, &c. In 1709 the "Tatler" made its appear- 
ance. The following curious note dates April 7th, 1710: — 

" I inclose to you [' Dear Prue '] a receipt for the saucepan and 
spoon, and a note of 231. of Lewis's, which will make up the 501. 
I promised for your ensuing occasion. 

" I know no happiness in this life in any degree comparable to the 
pleasure I have in your person and society. I only beg of you to add 
to your other charms a fearfulness to see a man that loves you in pain 
and uneasiness, to make me as happy as it is possible to be in this 
life. Eising a little in a morning, and being disposed to a cheerfulness 
would not be amiss." 

In another, he is found excusing his coming home, being "invited 
to supper to Mr. Boyle's." " Dear Prue," he says on this occasion, 
" do not send after me, for I shall be ridiculous." 



STEELE. 139 

wine," and where he has given a rendezvous to a 
friend, or a money-lender: some are composed in a 
high state of vinous excitement, when his head is 
flustered with Burgundy, and his heart abounds with 
amorous warmth for his darhng Prue : some are under 
the influence of the dismal headache and repentance 
next morning : some, alas, are from the lock-up house, 
where the lawyers have impounded him, and where he 
is waiting for bail. You trace many years of the poor 
fellow's career in these letters. In September, 1707, 
from wliieh day she began to save the letters, he mar- 
ried the beautiful ^listress Scurlock. You have his 
passionate protestations to the lady ; his respectful 
proposals to her mamma; his private prayer to 
Heaven when the union so ardently desii'ed was com- 
pleted ; his fond professions of contrition and promises 
of amendment, when, immediately after his marriage, 
there began to be just cause for the one and need for 
the other. 

Captain Steele took a house for his lady upon their 
marriage, " the thii'd door from Germain-street, left 
hand of Berry-street," and the next year he j)resented 
his wife with a countr}^ house at Hampton. It appears 
she had a chariot and i^au', and sometimes four 
horses : he himself enjoyed a little horse for his own 
riding. He paid, or promised to pay, his barber fifty 
pounds a year, and always went abroad in a laced 
coat and a large black-buclded periwig, that must have 



140 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

cost somebody fifty guineas. He was rather a well-to- 
do gentleman, Captain Steele, with the proceeds of his 
estates in Barbadoes (left to him by his first wife), his 
income as writer of the " Gazette," and his office of 
gentleman waiter to his Royal Highness Prince George. 
His second wife brought him a fortune too. But it is 
melancholy to relate that with these houses and chariots 
and horses and income, the Captain was constantly in 
want of money, for which his beloved bride was asldng 
as constantly. In the course of a few pages we begin 
to find the shoemaker calling for money, and some 
directions from the Captain, who has not thirty pounds 
to spare. He sends his wife, " the beautifullest object 
in the world," as he calls her, and evidently in reply 
to applications of her own, which have gone the way of 
all waste paper, and lighted Dick's pipes, which were 
smoked a hundred and forty years ago — he sends his 
wife now a guinea, then a half- guinea, then a couple of 
guineas, then half a pound of tea ; and again no money 
and no tea at all, but a promise that his darling Prue 
shall have some in a day or two ; or a request, perhaps, 
that she will send over his night-gown and shaving- 
plate to the temporary lodging where the nomadic 
captain is l3'ing, hidden from the bailiffs. Oh that a 
Christian hero and late captain in Lucas's should be 
afraid of a dirty sheriff's officer ! That the pink and 
pride of chivalry sliould turn pale before a writ ! It 
stands to record in poor Dick's own handwriting ; the 



STEELE. 141 

queer collection is preserved at the British Museum to 
this present clay ; that the rent of the nuptial house 
in Jermyn- street, sacred to unutterable tenderness 
and Prue, and three doors from Bury-street, was not 
paid until after the landlord had put in an execution 
on Captain Steele's furniture. Addison sold the house 
and furniture at Hampton, and, after deducting the sum 
in which his incorrigible friend was indebted to him, 
handed over the residue of the proceeds of the sale 
to poor Dick, who wasn't in the least angry at 
Addison's summary proceeding, and I dare say was 
very glad of any sale or execution, the result of which 
was to give him a little ready money. Having a small 
house in Jermyn-street for which he couldn't pay, and 
a country house at Hampton on which he had borrowed 
money, nothing must content Captain Dick but the 
taking, in 1712, a much finer, larger, and grander 
house, in Bloomsbury-square ; where his unhappy 
landlord got no better satisfaction than his friend in 
St. James's, and where it is recorded that Dick, giving 
a gTand entertainment, had a half-dozen queer-looking 
fellows in livery to wait upon his noble guests, and con- 
fessed that his servants were baihffs to a man. " I 
fared like a distressed prince," the Idndly j^rodigal 
writes, generously complimenting Addison for his 
assistance in the " Tatler," — " I fared lilve a distressed 
prince, who calls in a powerful neighbour to his aid. 
I was undone by my auxiliary ; when I had once called 



142 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

him in, I could not subsist without dependence on 
him." Poor, needy Prince of Bloomsbury ! think of 
him in his palace, with his allies from Chancery-lane 
ominously guarding him. 

All sorts of stories are told indicative of his reck- 
lessness and his good humour. One narrated by Dr. 
Hoadly is exceedingly characteristic ; it shows the life 
of the time : and our poor friend very weak, but very 
kind both in and out of his cups. 

" My father," (says Dr. John Hoadly, the Bishop's 
son) — "when Bishop of Bangor, was by invitation, 
present at one of the Whig meetings, held at the 
Trumpet, in Shoe Lane, when Sir Richard, in 
his zeal, rather exposed himself, having the double 
duty of the day upon him, as well to celebrate the 
immortal memory of King Wilham, it being the 4th 
November, as to drink his friend Addison up to con- 
versation-pitch, whose phlegmatic constitution was 
hardly warmed for society by that time. Steele was 
not fit for it. Two remarkable circumstances happened. 
John Sly, the hatter of facetious memory, was m the 
house ; and John, pretty mellow, took it into his head 
to come into the company on his knees, with a tankard 
of ale in his hand to drink oif to the immortal memory, 
and to return in the same manner. Steele sitting next 
my father, whispered him — Do laugh. It is humanity 
to laugh. Sir Bichard, in the evening, being too much 
in the same condition, was put into a chair, and sent 



STEELE. 143 

home. Nothing wonkl serve him hut heing carried to 
the Bishop of Bangor's, late as it was. However, the 
chairmen carried him home, and got him up stairs, 
when his great complaisance would wait on them down 
stairs, which he did, and then was got quietly to hed." ' 
There is another amusing story which I believe 
that renowned collector, Mr. Joseph Miller, or his 
successors, have incorporated into their work. Sir 
Richard Steele, at a time when he was much occupied 
with theatrical affairs, built himself a pretty private 
theatre, and, before it was opened to his friends and 
guests, was anxious to try whether the hall was well 
adapted for hearing. Accordingly he placed himself 
in the most remote part of the gallery, and begged the 
carpenter who had built the house to speak up from 
the stage. The man at first said that he was unaccus- 
tomed to pubhc speaking, and did not know what to 
say to his honour ; but the good-natured knight called 
out to him to say whatever was uppermost ; and after 
a moment the carpenter began, in a voice perfectly 
audible: "Sir Bichard Steele!" he said, "for three 
months past me and my men has been a working in 
this theatre, and we've never seen the colour of your 
honour's money: we will be very much obliged if 
you'll pay it directly, for until you do we won't drive 



^ Of this famous Bishop, Steele wrote, — 

" Vu'tue with so much ease on Bangor sits, 
All faults he pardons, though he none commits." 



144 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

in another nail." Sir Richard said that his friend's 
elocution was perfect, but that he didn't like his 
subject much. 

The great charm of Steele's writing is its naturalness. 
He wrote so quickly and carelessly, that he was forced 
to make the reader his confidant, and had not the 
time to deceive him. He had a small share of book- 
learning, but a vast acquaintance with the world. He 
had known men and taverns. He had lived with 
gownsmen, with troopers, with gentlemen ushers of 
the Court, with men and women of fashion ; with 
authors and wits, with the inmates of the spunging 
houses, and with the frequenters of all the clubs and 
coffee houses in the town. He was liked in all com- 
pany because he liked it; and you like to see his 
enjoyment as jou like to see the glee of a box full of 
children at the pantomime. He was not of those 
lonely ones of the earth whose greatness obliged them 
to be solitary; on the contrar}^, he admired, I think, 
more than any man who ever wrote ; and full of hearty 
applause and sympathy, wins upon you by calling you 
to share his delight and good humour. His laugh 
rings through the whole house. He must have been 
invaluable at a traged}^ and have cried as much as the 
most tender young lady in the boxes. He has a relish 
for beaut}^ and goodness wherever he meets it. He 
admired Shakspeare affectionately, and more than any 
man of his time; and, according to his generous 



STEELE. 145 



expansive nature, called upon all his company to like 
what lie liked himself. He did not damn with faint 
praise : he was in the world and of it ; and his enjoy- 
ment of life presents the strangest contrast to Swift's 
savage indignation, and Addison's lonely serenity.' 



^ Here we have some of his later letters : — 

TO LADY STEELE. 

''Hampton Court, March 16, 1716-17. 
" Dear Prue, 

" If you have written anything to me which I should have received 
last night, I beg your pardon that I cannot answer till the next post. 

Your son at the present writing is mighty well employed in 

tumbling on the floor of the room and sweeping the sand with a feather. 
He grows a most delightful child, and very full of play and spirit. He 
is also a very great scholar : he can read his Primer ; and I have 
brought down my Virgil. He makes most shrewd remarks about the 
pictures. We are very intimate friends and playfellows. He begins 
to be very ragged ; and I hope I shall be pardoned if I equip him with 
new clothes and frocks, or what Mrs. Evans and I shall think for his 
service." 

TO LADY STEELE. 

[Undated.] 
" You tell me you want a little flattery from me. I assure you I 
know no one who deserves so much commendation as yourself, and to 
whom saying the best things would be so little like flattery. The 
thing speaks itself, considering you as a very handsome woman that 
loves retirement — one who does not want wit, and yet is extremely 
sincere ; and so I could go through all the vices which attend the good 
qualities of other people, of which you are exempt. But, indeed, 
though you have every perfection, you have an extravagant fault, 
which almost frustrates the good in you to me ; and that is, that you 
do not love to dress, to appear, to shine out, even at my request, and 
to make me proud of you, or rather to indulge the pride I have that 

you are mine 

" Your most affectionate, obsequious husband, 

"Eicn. Steele. 

" A quarter of Molly's schooling is paid. The children are perfectly 

well." 

L 



146 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

Permit me to read to 3^011 a x^assage from each writer, 
curiously indicative of liis peculiar humour : the subject 
is the same, and the mood the very gravest. We have 
said that upon all the actions of man, the most trifling 
and the most solemn, the humourist takes upon him- 
seK to comment. All readers of our old masters know 
the terrible lines of Swift, in which he hints at liis 
philosophy and describes the end of mankind : — ' 

" Amazed, confused, its fate unknown, 
The world stood trembling at Jove's throne ; 
^Yhile each pale sinner lumg his head, 
Jove, nodding, shook the heavens and said : 

' Offending race of human kind, 
By nature, reason, learning, blind ; 
You who through frailty stepped aside, 
And you who never err'd through pride ; 



TO LADY STEELE. 

"March 26, mr. 
"My dearest Prue, 

" I have received yours, wherein you give me the sensible 

affliction of telling me enow of the continual pain in your head. .... 

When I lay in your place, and on your pillow, I assure you I fell into 

tears last night, to think that my charming little insolent might be 

then awake and in pain ; and took it to be a sin to go to sleep. 

"For this tender passion towards you, I must be contented that 

your Prueship will condescend to call yourself my well-wisher " 

At the tim3 when the above later letters were written, Lady Steele 
was in Wales, looking after her estate there. Steele, about this time, 
was much occupied with a project for conveying fish alive, by which, 
as he constantly assures his wife, he firmly believed he should make 
his fortune. It did not succeed, however. 

Lady Steele died in December of the succeeding year. She lies 
buried in Westminster Abbey. 

* Lord Chesterfield sends these verses to Voltaire in a characteristic 
letter. 



STEELE. 147 



You who in diflferent sects were shamm'd, 
And come to see each other damn'd ; 
(So some folk told you, but they knew 
.No more of Jove's designs than you.) 
The world's mad business now is o'er, 
And I resent your freaks no more ; 
I to svich blockheads set my wit, 
I damn such fools — go, go, you're bit ! ' " 

Addison, speaking on the very same theme, but with 
how different a voice, says, in his famous paper on West- 
minster Abbey (" Spectator," No. 26) : — " For my own 
part, though I am always serious, I do not know what 
it is to be melanchol}^, and can therefore take a view 
of nature in her deep and solemn scenes with the same 
pleasure as in her most gay and delightful ones. 
AVhen I look upon the tombs of the great, every 
emotion of envy dies within me ; when I read the 
epitaphs of the beautiful, everj'' inordinate desu'e goes 
out; when I meet with the grief of parents on a tomb- 
stone, my heart melts with compassion; when I see 
the tomb of the parents themselves, I consider the 
vanity of grieving for those we must quickly follow." 
(I have owned that I do not think Addison's heart 
melted very much, or that he indulged very inordi- 
nately in the " vanity of grieving.") " When," he goes 
on, "when I see kings Ij'ing by those who deposed 
them : when I consider rival wits placed side by side, or 
the holy men that divided the world with their contests 
and disputes, — I reflect with sorrow and astonishment 
on the little competitions, factions, and debates of 

L 2 



148 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

mankind. And, when I read the several dates on the 
tombs of some that died j^esterday and some 600 
years ago, I consider that Great Day when we shall 
all of us be contemporaries, and make our appearance 
together." 

Our third humourist comes to speak upon the same 
subject. You will have observed in the previous 
extracts the characteristic humour of each writer — the 
subject and the contrast — the fact of Death, and the 
play of individual thought, by which each comments 
on it, and now hear the third writer — death, sorrow, 
and the grave, being for the moment also his theme. 
" The first sense of sorrow I ever knew," Steele says 
in the " Tatler," " was upon the death of my father, 
at which time I was not quite five years of age : but 
was rather amazed at what all the house meant, than 
possessed of a real understanding why nobody would 
play with us. I remember I went into the room where 
his body lay, and my mother sate weeping alone by it. 
I had my battledore in my hand, and fell a beating 
the cofiin, and calling papa; for, I know not how, I 
had some idea that he was locked up there. My mother 
caught me in her arms, and, transported bej^ond all 
patience of the silent grief she was before in, she 
almost smothered me in her embraces, and told me in 
a flood of tears, ' Papa could not hear me, and would 
play with me no more : for they were going to put him 
imder ground, whence he would never come to us again.' 



STEELE. 149 

She was a very beautiful woman, of a noble spirit, and 
there was a dignity in her grief amidst all the wildness 
of her transport, which methought struck me with an 
instinct of sorrow that, before I was sensible what it 
was to grieve, seized my very soul, and has made pity 
the weakness of my heart ever since." 

Can there be three more characteristic moods of 
minds and men ? " Fools, do you know anything of 
this mystery ? " says Swift, stamping on a grave and 
carrying his scorn for mankind actually beyond it. 
Miserable, purblind wretches, how dare you to pretend 
to comprehend the Inscrutable, and how can your dim 
eyes pierce the unfathomable depths of yonder bound- 
less heaven ? Addison, in a much kinder language 
and gentler voice, utters much the same sentiment : 
and speaks of the rivalry of wits, and the contests of 
holy men, with the same sceptic placidity. " Look 
what a little vain dust we are ; " he says, smiling 
over the tombstones, and catching, as is his wont, 
quite a divine effulgence as he looks heavenward, he 
speaks in words of inspiration almost, of " the Great 
Day, w^hen we shall all of us be contemporaries, and 
make our appearance together." 

The third, whose theme is Death, too, and who will 
speak his word of moral as Heaven teaches him, leads 
you up to his father's coffin, and shows j^ou his beau- 
tiful mother weeping, and himself an unconscious Httle 
boy wondering at her side. His own natural tears flow 



150 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

as lie takes your hand and confidingly asks your sym- 
pathy. " See how good and innocent and beautiful 
women are," he says, " how tender little children ! " 
Let us love these and one another, brother — God knows 
we have need of love and pardon. So it is each man 
looks with his own eyes, speaks with his own voice, and 
prays his own prayer. 

When Steele asks your sympathy for the actors in that 
charming scene of Love and Grief and Death, who can 
refuse it ? One yields to it as to the frank advance of a 
child, or to the appeal of a woman. A man is seldom 
more manly than when he is what you call unmanned — 
the source of his emotion is championship, pity, and 
courage; the instinctive desire to cherish those who 
are innocent and unhappy, and defend those who are 
tender and weak. If Steele is not our friend he is 
nothing. He is by no means the most brilliant of wits 
nor the deepest of thinkers : but he is our friend : we 
love him, as children love their love with an A. 
because he is amiable. Who likes a man best because 
he is the cleverest or the wisest of mankind ; or a woman 
because she is the most virtuous, or talks French ; or 
plays thie piano better than the rest of her sex ? I own 
to liking Dick Steele the man, and Dick Steele the 
author, much better than much better men and much 
better authors. 

The misfortune regarding Steele is, that most part 
of the company here present must take his amiability 



STEELE. 151 

upon hearsay, and certainly can't make liis intimate 
acquaintance. Not that Steele was worse than his 
time ; on the contrary, a far better, truer, and 
higher-hearted man than most who lived in it. But 
things were done in that society, and names were 
named, which would make you shudder now. What 
would be the sensation of a polite youth of the present 
day, if at a ball he saw the young object of his affec- 
tions taking a box out of her pocket and a pinch of 
snuff: or if at dinner, by the charmer's side, she 
deliberately put her knife into her mouth ? If she cut 
her mother's throat ^\ith it mamma would scarcely be 
more shocked. I allude to these peculiarities of by*gone 
times as an excuse for my favourite, Steele, who was 
not worse, and often much more delicate than his 
neighbours. 

There exists a curious document descriptive of the 
manners of the last age, which describes most minutely 
the amusements and occupations of persons of fashion 
in London at the time of which we are speaking ; the 
time of Swift, and Addison, and Steele. 

When Lord Sparkish, Tom Neverout, and Colonel 
Atwit, the immortal personages of Swift's pohte con- 
versation, came to breakfast with my Lady Smart, at 
eleven o'clock in the morning, my Lord Smart was 
absent at the levee, His lordship was at home to 
dinner at three o'clock to receive his guests ; and we 
may sit down to this meal, like the Barmecide's, and 



152 ENGLISH HUMOUEISTS. 

see tlie fops of the last century before us. Seven of 
them sate down at dinner, and were joined by a 
country baronet, who told them they kept court hours. 
These persons of fashion began their dinner with 
a sii'loin of beef, fish, a shoulder of veal, and a tongue. 
My Lady Smart carved the sii-loin, my Lady Answerall 
helped the fish, and the gallant Colonel cut the shoulder 
of veal. All made a considerable inroad on the sirloin 
and the shoulder of veal with the exception of Sir John, 
who had no appetite, having already partaken of a 
beefsteak and two mugs of ale, besides a taiikard of 
March beer as soon as he got out of bed. They drank 
claret, which the master of the house said should 
always be drunk after fish; and my Lord Smart 
X)articularly recommended some excellent cider to 
my Lord Sparldsh, which occasioned some briUiant 
remarks from that nobleman. AVhen the host 
called for wine, he nodded to one or other of his 
guests, and said, " Tom Neverout, my service to 
you." 

After the first course came almond pudding, fritters, 
which the Colonel took with his hands out of the dish, 
in order to help the brilliant Miss Notable ; chickens, 
black puddings, and soup ; and Lady Smart, the 
elegant mistress of the mansion, finding a skewer in 
a dish, placed it in her plate with directions that it 
should be carried dovm to the cook and dressed for 
the cook's own dinner. AVine and small beer were 



STEELE. 158 

diimk during this second coiu'se ; and Tvhen the 
Colonel called for beer., he called the butler, Friend, 
and asked whether the beer was good. Various jocular 
remarks passed from the gentlefolks to the servants ; 
at breakfast several persons had a word and a joke for 
Mrs. Betty, my lady's maid, who wanned the cream 
and had chai'ge of the canister (the tea cost thirty 
shillings a pound in those days). "\Mien my Lady 
Sparkish sent her footman out to my Lady Match to 
come at six o'clock and play at quadrille, her ladyship 
warned the man to follow his nose, and if he fell by 
the way not to stay to get up again. And when the 
gentlemen asked the hall-porter if his lady was at 
home, that fimctionar}- replied, with manly waggishness, 
"She was at home just now, but she's not gone out 
yet" 

After the puddings, sweet and black, the fritters 
and soup, came the thii'd course, of which the chief 
dish was a hot venison pasty, which was put before 
Lord Smart, and cai-ved by that nobleman. Besides 
the pasty, there was a hare, a rabbit, some pigeons, 
pai*tridges, a goose, and a ham. Beer and wine were 
freely imbibed dm'ing tliis course, the gentlemen 
always pledging somebody with every glass which they 
drank; and by this time the conversation between 
Tom Xeverout and Miss Notable had gi-own so brisk 
and lively, that the Derby shii'e baronet began to think 
the young gentlewoman was Tom's sweetheart ; on 



154 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

which Miss remarked, that she loved Tom "like pie." 
After the goose, some of the gentlemen took a dram of 
brandy, which " was very good for the wholesomes," 
Sir John said ; and now having had a tolerably sub- 
stantial dinner, honest Lord Smart bade the butler 
bring up the great tankard full of October to Sir John. 
The great tankard was passed from hand to hand and 
mouth to mouth, but when pressed by the noble host 
upon the gallant Tom Neverout, he said, " No faith, 
my lord, I like your wine, and won't put a churl upon 
a gentleman. Your honour's claret is good enough for 
me." And so, the dinner over, the host said, " Hang 
saving, bring us up a ha'porth of cheese." 

The cloth was now taken away, and a bottle of 
Burgundy was set down, of which the ladies were 
invited to partake before they went to their tea. When 
they withdrew the gentlemen promised to join them 
in an hour ; fresh bottles were brought, the " dead 
men," meaning the empty bottles, removed ; and 
" d'you hear, John ? bring clean glasses," my Lord 
Smart said. On which the gallant Colonel Alwit said, 
" I'll keep my glass ; for wine is the best liquor to 
wash glasses in." 

After an hour the gentlemen joined the ladies, 
and then they all sate and played quadrille until 
three o'clock in the morning, when the chairs and 
the flambeaux came, and this noble company went 
to bed. 



STEELE. 155 



Such were manners six or seven score years ago. 
I draw no inference from this queer picture — let all 
moralists here present deduce their own. Fancy the 
moral condition of that society in which a lady of 
fashion joked with a footman, and carved a great 
shoulder of veal, and provided besides a sirloin, a 
goose, hare, rabbit, chickens, partridges, black-pud- 
dings, and a ham for a dinner for eight Christians. 
What — what could have been the condition of that 
polite world in which people openly ate goose after 
almond pudding, and took their soup in the middle of 
dinner ? Fancy a colonel in the Guards putting his 
hand into a dish of beignets d'ahricot, and helping his 
neighbour, a young lady du monde ! Fancy a noble 
lord calling out to the servants, before the ladies at his 
table, " Hang expense, bring us a ha'porth of cheese !" 
Such were the ladies of Saint James's — such were the 
frequenters of White's Chocolate House, when Swift 
used to visit it, and Steele described it as the centre 
of pleasure, gallantry and entertainment, a hundred 
and forty years ago ! 

Dennis who ran a muck at the literary society of his 
day, falls foul of poor Steele, and thus depicts him, — ■ 

" Sir John Edgar, of the Comity of in Ireland is 

of a middle stature, broad shoulders, thick legs, a 
shape like the picture of somebody over a farmer's 
chimney — a short chin, a short nose, a short forehead 
a broad, flat face, and a dusky countenance. Yet with 



156 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

such a face and such a shape, he discovered at sixty 
that he took himself for a beauty, and appeared to be 
more mortified at being told that he was ugly, than he 
was by any reflection made upon his honour or 
understanding. 

" He is a gentleman born, witness himself, of very 
honourable family ; certainly of a very ancient one, for 
his ancestors flourished in Tipperary long before the 
Enghsh ever set foot in Ireland. He has testimony 
of this more authentic than tlie Heralds' Oflice, or any 
human testimony. For God has marked him more 
abundantly than he did Cain, and stamped his native 
country on his face, his understanding, his writings, 
his actions, his passions, and above all his vanity. 
The Hibernian brogue is still upon all these, though 
long habit and length of days have worn it off liis 
tongue.'" 

^ Steele replied to Dennis in an " Answer to a Whimsical Pamphlet, 
called the Character of Sir John Edgar." What Steele had to say 
against the cross-grained old Critic discovers a great deal of humour : 

" Thou never did'st let the sun into thy garret, for fear he should 
bring a bailiff along with him 

" Your years are about sixty-five, an ugly vinegar face, that if you 
had any command you would be obeyed out of fear, from your ill-nature 
pictured there ; not from any other motive. Your height is about 
some five feet five inches. You see I can give your exact measure as 
well as if I had taken your dimension with a good cudgel, which I 
promise you to do as soon as ever I have the good fortune to meet 
you 

" Your doughty paunch stands before you like a firkin of butter, and 
your duck-legs seem to be cast for carrying burdens. 

"Thy works ai'e libels upon others, and satires upon thyself; and 



STEELE. 157 



Altliougii this portrait is the work of a man who 
was neither the friend of Steele, nor of any other man 
alive ; yet there is a dreadful resemblance to the 
original, in the savage and exaggerated traits of the 
caricature, and every body who knows him must 
recognise Dick Steele. Dick set about almost all the 
midertakings of his life with inadequate means, and, 
as he took and furnished a house with the most 
generous intentions towards his friends, the most ten- 
der gallantry towards his wife, and with this only 
drawback, that he had not wherewithal to pay the 
rent when Quarter-day came, — so, in his life he pro- 
posed to himself the most magnificent schemes of 



while they bark at men of sense call him knave and fool that wrote 
them. Thou hast a great antipathy to thy own species ; and hatest the 
sight of a fool, but in thy glass." 

Steele had been kind to Dennis, and once got arrested on account of 
a pecuniary service which he did him. When John heard of the fact 
— "S'death!" cries John; "why did not he keep out of the way as 
I did?" 

The '' Answer " concludes by mentioning that Gibber had offered Ten 
Pounds for the discovery of the authorship of Dennis's pamphlet ; on 
which, says Steele — 

" I am only sorry he has offered so much, because the ttcentieth part 
would have over-valued his whole carcase. But I know the fellow that 
he keeps to give answers to his creditors will betray him ; for he gave 
me his word to bring officers on the top of the house that should make 
a hole through the ceiling of his garret, and so bring him to the 
punishment he deserves. Some people think this expedient out of the 
way, and that he would make his escape upon hearing the least noise. 
I say so too ; but it takes him up half an hour every night to fortify 
himself with his old hair trunk, two or three joint stools, and some 
other lumber, which he ties together with cords so fast that it takes 
him up the same time in the morning to release himself." 



158 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

virtue, forbearance, public and private good, and the 
advancement of his own and the national religion ; but 
when he had to pay for these articles — so difficult to 
purchase and so costly to maintain — poor Dick's 
money was not forthcoming : and when Virtue called 
with her little bill, Dick made a shuffling excuse that 
he could not see her that morning, having a headache 
from being tipsy over night; or when stern Duty 
rapped at the door with his account, Dick was absent 
and not ready to pay. He was shirking at the tavern; 
or had some particular business (of somebody's else) 
at the ordinary : or he was in hiding, or worse than 
in hiding, in the lock-up house. What a situation for 
a man ! — for a philanthropist — for a lover of right and 
truth — for a magnificent designer and schemer ! Not 
to dare to look in the face the Beligion which he 
adored and which he had offended : to have to shirk 
down back lanes and alleys, so as to avoid the friend 
whom he loved and who had trusted him — to have the 
house which he had intended for his wife, whom he 
loved passionately, and for her ladyship's company 
which he wished to entertain splendidly, in the posses- 
sion of a bailiff's man, with a crowd of little creditors, 
— grocers, butchers, and small-coal men, Imgering 
round the door with their bills and jeering at him. 
Alas ! for poor Dick Steele ! For nobody else of 
course. There is no man or woman in our time who 
makes fine projects and gives them up from idleness 



STEELE. 159 



or want of means. When Duty calls upon us, we no 
doubt are always at home and ready to pay that grim 
tax-gatherer. When we are stricken with remorse and 
promise reform, we keep our promise, and are never 
angry, or idle, or extravagant any more. There are 
no chambers in our hearts, destined for family friends 
and affections, and now occupied by some Sin's 
emissary and bailiff in possession. There are no Kttle 
sins, shabby peccadilloes, importunate remembrances, 
or disappointed holders of our promises to reform, 
hovering at our steps, or knocking at our door ! Of 
course not. We are living in the nineteenth century, 
and poor Dick Steele stumbled and got up again, 
and got into jail and out again, and sinned and 
repented ; and loved and suffered ; and lived and died 
scores of years ago. Peace be with him ! Let us 
think gently of one who v/as so gentle : let us speak 
kindly of one whose own breast exuberated with 
human kindness. 



LECTURE THE EOURTH. 

PRIOR, GAY, AND POPE. 

Matthew Prior was one of those famous and lucky- 
wits of the auspicious reign of Queen Anne, whose 
name it behoves us not to pass over. Mat was a 
world-philosopher of no small genius, good nature, and 
acumen/ He loved, he drank, he sang. He describes 
himself, in one of his lyrics, "in a little Dutch chaise 



^ Gay calls him — " Dear Prior .... beloved by every muse." — Mr. 
Popes Welcome from Greece. 

Swift and Prior were very intimate, and he is frequently mentioned 
in the ''Journal to Stella." "Mr. Prior," says Swift, "walks to make 

himself fat, and I to keep myself down We often walk round 

the park together." 

In Swift's works there is a curious tract called " Remarks on the 
Characters of the Court of Queen Anne" [Scott's edition, vol. xii.] 
The "Remarks" are not by the Dean ; but at the end of each is an 
addition in italics from his hand, and these are always characteristic. 
Thus, to the Duke of Marlborough, he adds, " Detestably Covetous" &c. 
Prior is thus noticed — 

"Matthew Prior, Esq., Commissioner of Trade. 

" On the Queen's accession to the throne, he was continued in his 
office ; is very well at court with the ministry, and is an entire creature 
of my Lord Jersey's, whom he supports by his advice ; is one of the 



PRIOR, GAY, AND POPE. 161 

on a Saturday niglit ; on his left hand his Horace, and 
a friend on his right," going out of town from the 
Hague to pass that evening and the ensuing Sunday, 
boozing at a Spiel-haus with his companions, perhaps 
bobbing for perch in a Dutch canal, and noting down, 
in a strain and with a grace not unworthy of his 
Epicurean master, the charms of his idleness, his 
retreat, and his Batavian Chloe. A vintner's son in 
Whitehall, and a distinguished pupil of Busby of the 
Eod, Prior attracted some notice by writing verses at 
St. John's CoUege, Cambridge, and, coming up to town, 
aided Montague ' in an attack on the noble old English 



best poets in England, but very factious in conversation. A thin, 
hollow-looked man, turned of 40 years old. This is near the truths 



" Yet counting as far as to fifty his years, 

His virtues and vices were as other men's are. 
High hopes he conceived and he smothered great fears, 
In a life party-coloured — half pleasure, half care. 

Not to business a drudge, nor to faction a slave, 
He strove to make interest and freedom agree ; 

In public employments industrious and grave. 

And alone with his friends, Lord, how merry was be ! 

Now in equipage stately, now humbly on foot. 

Both fortunes he tried, but to neither would trust ; 
And whirled in the roimd as the wheel turned about, 

He found riches had wings, and knew man was but dust." 

Prior's Poems. [For my own monument.] 
1 " They joined to produce a parody, entitled the ' Town and Country 
Mouse," part of which Mr. Bayes is supposed to gratify his old friends 
Smart and Johnson, by repeating to them. The piece is therefore 
founded upon the twice-told jest of the ' Rehearsal.' . . . There is 
nothing new or original in the idea ... In this piece, Prior, though 
the younger man, seems to have had by far the largest shai'e." — Scott's 

Dryden^ vol. i. p. 330. 

M 



162 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

lion Jolm Dryclen, in ridicule of whose work, " The 
Hind and the Panther," he hrought out that remark- 
able and famous burlesque, " The Town and Country 
Mouse." Aren't you all acquainted with it? Have 
you not all got it by heart ? What ! have you never 
heard of it ? See what fame is made of ! The 
wonderful part of the satire was, that, as a natural 
consequence of " The Town and Country Mouse," 
Matthew Prior was made Secretary of Embassy at the 
Hague ! I believe it is dancing, rather than singing, 
which distinguishes the j^oung English diplomatists of 
the present day ; and have seen them in various parts 
perform that part of their duty very finely. In Prior's 
time it appears a different accomplishment led to 
preferment. Could you write a copy of Alcaics ? that 
was the question. Could you turn out a neat epigi'am 
or two ? Could you compose " The Town and Country 
Mouse ? " It is manifest that, hj the possession of 
this facult}^ the most difficult treaties, the laws of 
foreign nations, and the interests of our own, are 
easily understood. Prior rose in the diplomatic ser- 
vice, and said good things that proved his sense and 
his spirit. When the apartments at Versailles were 
shown to him, with the victories of Louis XIV. painted 
on the walls, and Prior was asked whether the palace 
of the king of England had any such decorations, 
" The monuments of my master's actions," Mat said, 
of William, whom he cordially revered, *' are to be 



PRIOE, GAY, AXD POPE. 163 

seen everwhere except in liis ovra house." Bravo, 
Mat! Prior rose to be full ambassador at Paris/ 
where he somehow was cheated out of his ambassa- 
dorial plate ; and m a heroic poem, addressed by him 
to her late lamented majesty Queen Anne, Mat makes 
some magnificent allusions to these dishes and spoons, 
of wliich Fate had deprived him. All that he wants, 
he says, is her Majesty's picture; without that he can't 
be happy. 

" Thee, gracious Anne, tliee present I adore : 
Thee, Queen of Peace, if Time and Fate have power 
Higher to raise the glories of thy reign, 
In words sublimer and a nobler strain. 
May future bards the mighty theme rehearse. 
Here, Stator Jove, and Phoebus, king of Verse, 
The votive tablet I suspend." 

"With that word the poem stops abrui)tly. The votive 
tablet is suspended for ever like Mahomet's cofiin. 
News came that the Queen was dead. Stator Jove, 
and Phoebus, king of verse, were left there, hovering to 
this day, over the votive tablet. The picture was never 



^ " He was to have been in the same commission with the Duke of 
Shrewsbury, but that that nobleman," says Johnson, " refused to be 
associated with one so meanly born. Prior therefore continued to act 
without a title till the Duke's return next year to England, and then he 
assumed the style and dignity of embassador." 

He had been thinking of slights of this sort when he wrote his 
Epitaph : — 

" Nobles and heralds by your leave, 

Here Kes what once was Matthew Piior, 
The son of Adam and of Eve ; 

Can Bourbon or Nassau claim higher V 

But, in this case, the old prejudice got the better of the old joke. 

M 2 



164 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

got any more than the spoons and dishes — the inspira- 
tion ceased — the verses were not wanted — the ambas- 
sador wasn't wanted. Poor Mat was re-called from his 
embassy, suffered disgrace along mth his patrons, 
Hved under a sort of cloud ever after, and disappeared 
in Essex. When deprived of all his pensions and 
emoluments, the hearty and generous Oxford pensioned 
him. They played for gallant stakes — the bold men of 
those days — and lived and gave splendidly. 

Johnson quotes from Spence a legend, that Prior, 
after spending an evening with Harley, St. John, Pope, 
and Swift, would go off and smoke a pipe with a couple 
of friends of his, a soldier and his wife, in Long Acre. 
Those who have not read his late excellency's poems 
should be warned that they smack not a httle of the 
conversation of his Long Acre friends. Johnson speaks 
shghtingiy of his lyrics ; but with due deference to the 
great Samuel, Prior's seem to me amongst the easiest, 
the richest, the most charmingly humourous of English 
lyrical poems. Horace is always in his mind, and his 
song, and his philosophy, his good sense, his happy 
easy turns and melody, his loves, and his epicureanism, 



' His epigrams have the genuine sparkle : 

The Remedy worse than the Disease. 

" I sent for Radcliflf; was so ill, 

That other doctors gave me over : 
He felt my pulse, prescribed a pill, 
And I was likely to recover. 



PRIOR, GAY, AND POPE. 165 



bear a great resemblance to that most delightful and 
accomplished master. In reading his works, one is 
struck with their modern air, as well as by their happy 
similarity to the songs of the charming owner of the 
Sabine farm. In his verses addressed to Halifax, he 
says, writing of that endless theme to poets, the vanity 
of human wishes — 

" So when in fevered dreams we sink, 
And, waking, taste what we desire. 
The real draught but feeds the fire, 
The dream is better than the drink. 

" Our hopes like towering falcons aim 
At objects in an airy height : 
To stand aloof and view the flight, 
Is all the pleasure of the game." 

Would not you fancy that a poet of our own days 



" But when the wit began to wheeze, 

And wine had warmed the politician, 
Cured yesterday of my disease, 
I died last night of my physician." 



" Yes, every poet is a fool ; 

By demonstration Ned can show it ; 
Happy could Ned's inverted rule 
Prove every fool tabe a poet." 



On his death-bed poor Lubin lies, 

His spouse is in despair ; 
With frequent sobs and mutual sighs. 

They both express their care. 

A different cause says Parson Sly, 
The same effect may give ; 

Poor Lubin fears that he shall die. 
His wife that he may live." 



166 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

was singing ? and, in the verses of Chloe weeping and 
reproaching him for his inconstancy, where he says — • 

" The God of us verse-men, you know, child, the Sun, 
How after his journey, he set up his rest. 
If at morning o'er earth 'tis his fancy to run, 
At night he declines on his Thetis's breast. 

" So, when I am wearied with wandering all day. 
To thee, my delight, in the evening I come : 
No matter what beauties I saw in my way ; 

They were but my visits, but thou art my home 1 

" Then finish, dear Cloe, this pastoral wai". 
And let us like Horace and Lydia agree ; 
For thou art a girl as much brighter than her. 
As he was a poet sublimer than me." 

If Prior read Horace, did not Thomas Moore study 
Prior? Love and pleasure find singers in all days. 
Roses are always blowing and fading — to-day as in that 
pretty time when Prior sang of them, and of Chloe 
lamenting their decay — 

" She sighed, she smiled, and to the flowers 
Pointing, the lovely moralist said ; 
See, friend, in some few leisure hours, 
See yonder what a change is made I 

" Ah, me ! the blooming pride of May, 
And that of Beauty are but one : 
At morn both flourisht bright and gay, 
Both fade at evening, pale and gone. 

" At dawn poor Stella danced and sung, 
The amorous youth around her bowed. 
At night her fatal knell was rung ; 
I saw, and kissed her in her shroud. 



PRIOR, GAY, AND POPE. 167 

" Such as she is who died to day, 
Such I, alas, may be to-morrow : 
Go, Damon, bid the Muse display 
The justice of thy Cloe's sorrow." 

Damon's knell was rung in 1721. May his turf lie 
lightly on him ! Deus sitpropitius huicpotatori as Walter 
de Maj)es sang.' Perhaps Samuel Johnson, who spoke 

^ PRIOR TO SIR THOMAS HANMER. 

"Aug.i, 1709. 
" Dear Sir, 

" Friendship may live, I grant you, without being fed and 
cherished by correspondence ; but with that additional benefit I am 
of opinion it will look more cheerful and thrive better : for in this 
case, as in love, though a man is sure of his own constancy, yet his 
happiness depends a good deal upon the sentiments of another, and 
while you and Chloe are alive, 'tis not enough that I love you both 
except I am sure you both love me again ; and as one of her scrawls 
fortifies my mind more against aflfliction than all Epictetus, with 
Simplicius's comments into the bargain, so your single letter gave 

me more real pleasure than all the works of Plato I must 

return my answer to your very kind question concerning my health. 
The Bath waters have done a good deal towards the recovery of it, 
and the great specific, Caj^e Cahallum, will, I think, confirm it. Upon 
this head I must tell you that my mare Betty grows blind, and may 
one day, by breaking my neck, perfect my cure : if at Rixham fail- 
any pretty nagg tliat is between thirteen and fourteen hands pre- 
sented himself, and you would be pleased to pm^chase him for me, 
one of your servants might ride him to Euston, and I might receive 
him there. This, sir, is just as such, a thing happens. If you hear, 
too, of a Welch widow, with a good joincture, that has her goings 
and is not very skittish, pray be pleased to cast your eye on her for me, 
too. You see, sir, the great trust I repose in your skill and honour, 

when I dare put two such commissions in your hand " — 

The Hcmmer Correspondence, p. 120, 

FROM MR, PRIOR, 

" Paris, 1st— 12th May, 1714. 
"My dear Lord and Friend, 

" Matthew never had so gi*eat occasion to write a word to Henry 



168 ENGLISH HUMOUKISTS. 



slightingly of Prior's verses, enjoyed tliem more than 
he was willing to own. The old moralist had studied 



as now : it is noised liere that I am soon to return. The question that 
I wish I could answer to the many that ask, and to our friend Colbert 
de Torcy (to whom I made your compliments in the manner you com- 
manded) is, what is done for me; and to what I am recalled] It 
may look like a bagatelle, what is to become of a philosopher like 
me ? but it is not such : what is to become of a person who had the 
honour to be chosen, and sent hither as intrusted, in the midst of a 
war, with what the queen designed should make the peace ; returning 
with the Lord Bolingbroke, one of the greatest men in England, and 
one of the finest heads in Europe (as they say here, if true or not, 
oi'impoiie) ; having been left by him in the greatest character (that of 
Her Majesty's Plenipotentiary), exercising that power conjointly with 
the Duke of Shrewsbury, and solely after his departure ; having here 
received more distinguished honour than any ministei', except an 
Ambassador, ever did, and some which were never given to any, but 
who had that character; having had all the success that could be 
expected, having (God be thanked !) spared no pains, at a time when 
at home the peace is voted safe and honourable — at a time when the 
Earl of Oxford is Lord Treasurer and Lord Bolingbroke First Seci-etary 
of State ? This unfortunate person, I say, neglected, forgot, unnamed 
to anything that may speak the queen satisfied with his services, or 
his friends concerned as to his fortune. 

" Mr. de Torcy put me quite out of countenance, the other day, by 
a pity that wounded me deeper than ever did the cruelty of the late 
Lord Godolphin. He said he would write to Eobin and Harry about 
me. God forbid, my lord, that I should need any foreign intercession, 
or owe the least to any Frenchman living, besides the decency of 
behaviour and the returns of common civility. Some say I am to go 
to Baden, others that I am to be added to the Commissioners for 
settling the commerce. In all cases I am ready, but in the mean 
time, die aliquid de tribus capellis. Neither of these two are, I presume, 
honours or rewards ; neither of them (let me say to my dear Lord 
Bolingbroke, and let him not be angry with me,) are what Drift may 
aspire to, and what Mr. Whitworth, Avho was his fellow clerk, has or 
may possess. I am far from desiiiug to lessen the great merit of the 
gentleman I named, for I heartily esteem and love him ; but in this 
trade of ours, my Lord, in which you are the general, as in that of 



PEIOR, GAY, AXD POPE. 169 

them as well as Mr. Thomas Moore, and defended 
them, and showed that he remembered them very well 
too, on an occasion when their morality was called in 
question by that noted puritan, James Boswell, Esq., 
of Auchinleck.^ 



the soldiery, there is a certain right acquired by time and long service. 
You wovild do anything for your Queen's service, but you would not 
be contented to descend, and be degraded to a charge, no way pro- 
portioned to that of Secretary of State, any more than Mr. Ross, 
though he would charge a party with a halbard in his hand, would 
be content all his life after to be Serjeant. Was my Lord Dartmouth, 
from Secretary, returned again to be Commissioner of Trade, or from 
Secretary of War, would Frank Gwin think himself kindly used to be 
returned again to be Commissioner 1 In short, my lord, you have put 
me above myself, and if I am to return to myself, I shall return to 
something very discontented and uneasy. I am sure, my lord, you 
will make the best use you can of this hint for my good. If I am 
to have anything it will certainly be for Her Majesty's service, and the 
credit of my friends in the Ministry, that it be done before I am 
recalled from home, lest the world may think either that I have 
merited to be disgraced, or that ye dare not stand by me. If nothing 
is to be done, fiat voluntas Dei. I have writ to Lord Treasurer upon 
this subject, and having implored your kind intercession, I promise 
you it is the last remonstrance of this kind that I will ever make. 
Adieu, my lord ; all honour, health, and pleasure to you. 

" Yours ever, 

" Matt. 

" P.S. Lady Jersey is just gone from me. We drank your healths 
together in Usquebaugh after our tea : we are the greatest friends 
alive. Once more adieu. There is no svich thing as the 'Book of 
Travels ' you mentioned ; if there be let friend Tilson send us more 
particular account of them, for neither I nor Jacob Tonson can find 
them. Pray send Barton back to me, I hope with some comfortable 
tidings." — BoliiKjlroTce s Letters. 

^ " I asked whether Prior's poems were to be printed entire ; 
Johnson said they were. I mentioned Lord Hales' censure of Prior in 
his preface to a collection of sacred poems, by varioxis hands, published 



170 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

In the gTeat society of the wits, John Gay deserved 
to be a favourite, and to have a good place. ^ In his set 
all were fond of him. His success offended nobody. 
He missed a fortune once or twice. He was talked of 
for court favour, and hoped to win it ; but the court 
favour jilted him. Craggs gave him some South-Sea 
Stock ; and at one time Gay had very nearly made his 
fortune. But Fortune shook her swift wings and jilted 
him too : and so his friends, instead of being angry with 



by him at Edinburgh a great many years ago, where he mentions ' these 
impure tales, which will be the eternal opprobium of their ingenious 
author.' Johnson : ' Sir, Lord Hales has forgot. There is nothing in 
Prior that will excite to lewdness. If Lord Hales thinks there is, he 
must be more combustible than other people.' I instanced the tale of 
' Paulo Purganti and his wife.' Johnson : ' Sir, there is nothing there 
but that his wife wanted to be kissed, when poor Paulo was out of 
pocket. No sir. Prior is a lady's book. No lady is ashamed to have it 
standing in her library.' " — Boswell's Life of Johnson. 

^ Gay was of an old Devonshire family, but his pecuniary prospects 
not being great, was placed in his youth in the house of a silk-mercer 
in Loudon. He was born in 1688 — Pope's year, and in 1712 the 
Duchess of Monmouth made him her secretaiy. Next year he 
published his ''Eural Sports," which he dedicated to Pope, and so 
made an acquaintance, which became a memorable friendship. 

" Gay," says Pope, ''was quite a natural man, — wholly without art or 
design, and spoke just what he thought and as he thought it. He dangled 
for twenty years about a court, and at last was offered to be made 
usher to the young princess. Secretary Cx'aggs made Gay a present 
of stock in the South-Sea year ; and he was once worth 20,000^., but 
lost it all again. He got about 500^. by the first Beggar's Opera, and 
llOOZ. or 120UZ. by the second. He was negligent and a bad manager. 
Latterly, the Duke of Queeusberry took his money into his keeping, 
and let him only have what was necessary out of it, and, as he lived 
with them, he could not have occasion for much. He died worth 
upwards of 3000^." — Pope {Spence's Anecdotes). 



PEIOR, GAY, AND POPE. 171 



him, and jealous of him, were kind and fond of honest 
Gay. In the portraits of the Hterary worthies of the 
early part of the last century, Gay's face is the 
pleasantest perhaps of all. It appears adorned with 
neither perimg nor night-cap (the full dress and 
negligee of learning, without which the painters of those 
days scarcely ever pourtrayed wits), and he laughs at 
you over his shoulder with an honest boyish glee — an 
artless sweet humour. It was so kind, so gentle, so 
jocular, so delightfully brisk at times, so dismally 
woe-begone at others, such a natural good-creature, 
that the Giants loved him. The great Swift was 
gentle and sportive with him,' as the enormous Brob- 
dingnag maids of honour were with little Gulliver. He 
could frisk and fondle round Pope,^ and sport, and bark, 



^ '* Mr. Gay is, in all regards, as honest and sincere a man as ever I 
knew." — Swift, to Lady Betty Germaine, Jan. 1733. 
- " Of manners gentle, of affections mild ; 
In wit a man ; simplicity, a child ; 
With native humom- tem'pring virtuous rage, 
Fox'm'd to delight at once and lash the age ; 
Above temptation in a low estate. 
And uncorrupted e'en among the great : 
A safe companion, and an easy fx'iend, 
Unblamed through life, lamented in the end. 
These are thy honours ! not that here thy bust 
Is mix'd with heroes, or with kings thy dust ; 
But that the worthy and the good shall say, 
Striking their pensive bosoms, 'Here lies Gay.' " 

Pope's Epitaph on Gay. 
" A hare who, in a civil way, 
Comply'd with everything, like Gay." 

Fables, " The Bare and many Friends." 



172 ENGLISH HUMOUKISTS. 

and caper without offending the most thin-skinned of 
poets and men ; and when he was jilted in that little 
court affair of which we have spoken, his warm-hearted 
patrons the Duke and Duchess of Queensberry/ (the 



1 " I can give you no account of Gay," says Pope, curiously, " since 
he was raffled for, and won back by his Duchess."— Works, Roscoeh Ed., 
vol. ix. p. 392. 

Here is the letter Pope wrote to him when the death of Queen Anne 
brought back Lord Clarendon from Hanover, and lost him the Secretary- 
ship of that nobleman, of which he had had but a short tenure. 

Gay's court prospects were never happy from this time. — His dedica- 
tion of the " Shepherd's Week," to Bolingbroke, Swift used to call the 
*' original sin," which had hurt him with the house of Hanover. 

"Sept. 23,1714. 

*'Dear Mr. Gat, — 

" Welcome to your native soil ! welcome to your friends ! thrice 
welcome to me ! whether returned in glory, blest with court 
interest, the love and familiarity of the great, and filled with agreeable 
hopes ; or melancholy with dejection, contemplative of the changes of 
fortune, and doubtful for the future ; whether returned a triumphant 
Whig or a depending Tory, equally all hail ! equally beloved and 
welcome to me ! If happy, I am to partake of your elevation ; if 
unhappy you have still a warm corner in my heart, and a retreat at 
Benfield in the worst of times at your service. If you are a Tory, or 
thought so by any man, I know it can proceed from nothiug but your 
gratitude to a few people who endeavoured to serve you, and whose 
politics were never your concern. If you are a Whig, as I rather hope, 
and as I think your principles and mine (as brother poets) had ever a 
bias to the side of liberty, I know you will be an honest man and an 
inoffensive one. Upon the whole, I know you are incapable of being so 
much of either party as to be good for nothing. Therefore, once more, 
whatever you are or in whatever state you are, all hail ! 

" One or two of your own friends complained they had nothing from 
you since the Queen's death ; I told them no man living loved Mr. Gay 
better than I, yet I had not once wiitten to him in all his voyage. This 
I thought a convincing proof, but truly one may be a friend to another 
without telling him so every month. But they had reasons, too, them- 



PRIOR, GAY, AND POPE. 173 

' Kitty, beautiful and young,' of Prior) pleaded bis cause 
witb indignation, and quitted tbe court in a buff. 



selves to allege in your excuse, as men who really value one 
another will never want such as make their friends and themselves easy. 
The late universal concern in public affairs threw us all into a hurry of 
spirits : even I, who am more a philosopher than to expect anything 
from any reign, was borne away with the current, and full of the expecta- 
tion of the successor. During your journeys, I knew not whither to 
aim a letter after you; that was a sort of shooting flying : add to this 
the demand Homer had upon me, to write fifty verses a day, besides 
learned notes, all of which are at a conclusion for this year. Rejoice 
with me, my friend ! that my labour is over ; come and make merry 
with me in much feasting. We will feed among the lilies (by the lilies 
I mean the ladies.) Are not the Rosalindas of Britain, as charming as 
the Blousalindas of the Hague 1 or have the two great Pastoral poets of 
our own nation renounced love at the same time 1 for Phillips, unnatural 
Phillips, hath deserted it, yea, and in a rustic manner kicked his 
Rosalind. Dr. Parnell and I have been inseparable ever since you went. 
We are now at the Bath, where (if you are not, as I heartily hope, 
better engaged) your company would be the greatest pleasure to us in 
the world. Talk not of expenses : Homer shall support his children. 
I beg a line from you, directed to the Post-house in Bath. Poor 
Parnell is in an ill state of health. 

" Pardon me if I add a word of advice in the poetical way. Write 
something on the king, or prince, or princess. On whatsoever foot 
you may be with the court, this can do no harm. I shall never 
know where to end, and am confounded in the many things I have 
to say to you, though they all amount but to this, that I am, entirely, 
as ever, 

"Your," &c. 

Gay took the advice "in the poetical way," and published "An 
Epistle to a Lady, occasioned by the arrival of her Royal Highness the 
Princess of Wales." But, though this brought him access to Court, 
and the attendance of the Prince and Princess at his farce of the 
" What d'ye call it," it did not bring him a place. On the accession 
of George II., he was oflfei'ed the situation of Gentleman Usher to the 
Princess Louisa (her Highness being then two years old) ; but " by 
this offer," says Johnson, "he thought himself insulted." 



174 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

canning off with tliem into tlieir retirement their 
kind, gentle, protege. With these kind, lordly folks, a 
real Duke and Duchess, as delightful as those who har- 
boured Don Quixotte, and loved that dear old Sancho, 
Gay lived, and was lapped in cotton, and had his plate 
of chicken, and his saucer of cream, and frisked, and 
barked, and wheezed, and grew fat, and so ended.' He 
became very melancholy, and lazy, sadly plethoric, and 
only occasionally diverting in his latter days. But 
everybody loved him, and the remembrance of his 
pretty little tricks; and the raging old Dean of 
St. Patrick's, chafing in his banishment, was afraid to 
open the letter which Pope wrote him, announcing the 
sad news of the death of Gay.'' 



' " Gay was a great eater. — ' As the French philosopher used to 
prove his existence by cogito, ergo sum, the greatest proof of Gay's 
existence is, edit, ergo est." 

CoNGREVE, in a Letter to Pope {Spence's Anecdotes). 

- Swift indorsed the letter — " On my dear friend Mr. Gay's death ; 
received Dec. 1 5, but not read till the 20th, by an impulse foreboding 
some misfortune." 

" It was by Swift's interest that Gay was made known to Lord 
Boliugbroke, and obtained his patronage." — Scott's Siolft, vol. i, p. 156. 

Pope wrote on the occasion of Gay's death, to Swift, thus : — 

" IDcc. 5, 1732.] 

. . . " Oue of the nearest and longest ties I have ever had is 
broken all on a sudden by the unfortunate death of poor Mr. Gay. An 
inflammatory fever carried him out of this life in three days. . . . 
He asked of you a few hours before when in acute torment by the 
inflammation in his bowels and breast. . . . His sisters, we suppose, 
will be his heirs, who are two widows. . . . Good God ! how often 
are we to die before we go quite off this stage 1 In every fiiend 
we lose a part of ourselves, and the best part. God keep those we 
have left ! Few are worth praying for, and one's self the least of all." 



PRIOE, GAY, AND POPE. 175 

Swift's letters to him are beautiful ; and having no 
purpose but kindness in writing to him, no party aim 
to advocate, or slight or anger to wreak, every word 
the Dean says to his favourite is natural, trustworthj'-, 
and kindly. His admiration for Gay's parts and 
honesty, and his laughter at his weaknesses, were alike 
just and genuine. He paints his character in wonder- 
ful pleasant traits of jocular satire. " I writ lately to 
Mr. Pope," Swift says, writing to Gay ; " I wish you 
had a little villakin in liis neighbourhood ; but you are 
yet too volatile, and any lady with a coach and six horses 
would carry you to Japan." "If your ramble," says Smft, 
in another letter, "was on horseback, I am glad of it, on 
account of your health ; but I know your arts of pack- 
ing up a journey between stage-coaches and friends' 
coaches — for you are as arrant a cockney as any hosier 
in Cheapside. I have often had it in my head to put 
it into yours, that you ought to have some great work 
in scheme, which may take up seven years to finish, 
besides two or three under-ones that may add another 
thousand pounds to your stock, and then I shall be in 
less pain about you. I know you can find dinners, but 
3^ou love twelve-penny coaches too well, without con- 
sidering that the interest of a whole thousand pounds 
brings you but half-a-crown a day:" and then Swift 
goes off from Gay to pay some grand compliments to 
Her Grace the Duchess of Queensberry, in whose 
sunshine Mr. Gay was basking, and in whose 



176 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

radiance the Dean would have liked to warm him- 
self too. 

But we have Gay here before us, in these letters, — 
lazy, kindly, uncommonly idle ; rather slovenly, I'm 
afraid ; for ever eating and saying good things ; a little, 
round, French abbe of a man, sleek, soft-handed, and 
soft-hearted. 

Our object in these lectures is rather to describe 
the men than their works ; or to deal with the latter 
only in as far as they seem to illustrate the character 
of their writers. Mr. Gay's " Fables/' which were 
written to benefit that amiable Prince, the Duke of 
Cumberland, the warrior of Dettingen and Culloden, 
I have not, I own, been able to peruse since a period 
of very early youth ; and it must be confessed that 
they did not effect much benefit upon the illustrious 
young Prince, whose manners they were intended to 
mollify, and whose natural ferocity our gentle -hearted 
Satirist perhaps proposed to restrain. But the six 
pastorals called the '^ Shepherd's Week," and the 
burlesque poem of " Trivia," any man fond of lazy 
literature will find delightful, at the present day, and 
must read from beginning to end with pleasure. They 
are to poetry what charming little Dresden china 
figures are to sculpture : graceful, minikin, fantastic ; 
with a certain beauty always accompanying them. 
The pretty little i^ersonages of the pastoral, with gold 
clocks to their stockmgs, and fresh satin ribbons to 



PRIOR, GAY, Al!TD POPE. 177 



their crooks and waistcoats and boddices, dance their 

loves to a minuet-tune played on a bird-organ, 

approach the charmer, or rush from the false one 

damtily on their red-heeled tiptoes, and die of despair 

or raptiu'e, with the most pathetic little grins and ogles ; 

or repose, simpermg at each other, under an arbour of 

pea- green crockery ; or piping to pretty flocks that 

have just been washed with the best Naples in a stream 

of Bergamot. Gay's gay plan seems to me far 

pleasanter than that of Phillips — his rival and Pope's 

— a serious and deary idylUc cockney ; not that Gay's 

" Bumkinets and Hobnelias " are a whit more natural 

than the would-be serious characters of the other 

posture -master ; but the quality of this true humourist 

was to laugh and make laugh, though always with a 

secret Idndness and tenderness, to perform the drollest 

little antics and capers, but always with a certain grace, 

and to sweet music, — as you may have seen a Savoj^ard 

boy abroad, with a hurdy-gurdy and a monkey, tm'ning 

over head and heels, or clattering and pirouetting in a 

pair of wooden shoes, yet always with a look of love and 

appeal in his bright eyes, and a smile that asks and 

wins affection and protection. Happy they who have 

that sweet gift of nature ! It was this which made 

the great folks and court ladies free and friendly 

with John Gay — which made Pope and Arbuthnot 

love him — which melted the savage heart of S\vift 

when he thought of him — and drove away, for a 



178 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

moment or two, tlie dark frenzies which obsciu*ed the 
lonely tyi'ant's brain, as he heai'd Gay's voice with 
its simple melody and artless linging laughter. 

AVhat used to be said about Rubini, quil avait des 
larmes dans la voivy may be said of Gay/ and of one 
other humomist of whom we shall have to speak. In 
almost every ballad of his, however slight ; ^ in the 



^ " Gay, like Goldsmith, had a musical talent. ' He could play on 
the flute,' says Malone, ' and was, therefore, enabled to adapt so 
happUy some of the airs in the Beggat^s Opera.' " — Notes to Spenck. 

- •' T'was when the se<a3 were roaring 

With hollow blasts of wind, 
A damsel lay deploi-ing 

All on a rock reclinecL 
Wide o'er the foaming billows 

She cast a wistful look ; 
Her head was crown'd with willows 

That trembled o'er the brook. 

" * Twelve months are gone and over, 

And nine long tedious days ; 
Why didst thou, venturous lover, — 

"NMiy didbt thou tnist the seas ? 
Cease, cease, thou cruel Ocean, 

And let my lover rest ; 
Ah ! what's thy troubled motion 

To that within my breast ? 

The merchant robb'd of pleasure, 

Sees tempests in despair; 
But what's the loss of treas\ire 

To losing of my dear ] 
Should you some coast be laid on, 

Where gold and ditimonds grow. 
You'd find a richer maiden, 

But none that loves you so. 



rmOK, C!AY, ANO VOVK. 170 



" IV'ggjir's OiHM'M." ' mul ill its wi^irisinnc couliuuMiion 
(whore i\\c wvscx nvc lo \\\c full as pic^tty as in llu> 

" ' How i;ui tlu-y «:<>' (luit. Naliut> 

ll:is iiotliini; mail*' in vain ; 
^Vhy tluMi hiMioath tho wator 

SluniKl liiiUnnis roi'ks riMnain ? 
No oyos tlu> riU'Us tlisiH)vor 

Tliul. link hiMUMith tho iloop. 
To w ivi'k tlii> waiuloritij; lovoi*, 

And Iravo tho maid to woop?' 

•■ All ini>lani-lioly lyini:;, 

Tims wailM sho for hor dear : 
UopayM oarli Mast with Hij^hinj?, 

Kiu'h biUow with a ttMO" ; 
When o'cv tlu> whito wavo stooping, 

His float in;;- rorpso sho spy'd ; 
TluMi, liko a lily drooping, 

Sho how'd luM' luNvd, and diod." 

.1 luillaif. front the " W/iaf-iri/c call it." 

"What can bo pvottitM* lluui Uay's ballad, ov rathor Swift's. 
Arlnitlmot'H, Popo's. and (lay's, in tho 'What d'yo mil it.' "T'was 
wluMi the scaa wovo roaring f* I have l)i>t>n well inroriu(>d, (ha( tlu>y all 
oontrih\it,cd." — Cowprr to Univin, 17S;?. 

' " l>i- Swift had boon obsorvini^ onco to Mr. (Jay. what an odd protty 
siM-f. of (hm;^ a Nowgato Pastoral nii;;ht: makiv (Jay was iiuliut'd to 
try at sm-h a thing, for somo titno, but alU'rwards thought it would bo 
bottcM' to writo a oonunly on tho saino ]Wan. This was what gavo riso 
to tho 'Beggar's OptM'a." Il«> began on it, and wIumi ho lirst nuMilionod 
it to Swift, tho Dortor did not nmeh liko tho i>roioot. As ho cariied it 
on, ho showotl what ho wrote to both of »is ; and we now and t lu>n ga\ f 
a eoiTcetien. or a word or two of advice : but it was wholly of his own 
M riling. \\'luMi it. was done*, ncitlu>r oi' ns thought it. wouhl sueei>ed. 
Wo showed it to (\)ngreve. who, aftiM* readii\g it ovtM-. said. ' if. wo\dd 
cither tak(> greatly or be «lanin(>d eiHifoundediy.' \\'e \\i'r(> all at. tho 
fu*st night of it, in great uneertainty of the evt>nt ; till we were very 
unu'h eneoiu'aged by overheai'ing the I>id;e of Argyle. who sat in tho 
next, box to US, any. * it. will Ao it. must i\y) ! I sei> it. in tlu> I'yes of 
them ! ■ This was a gooil \vliili> before tlu' lirst aet was over, and so 

N 2 



180 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

first piece, however), there is a peculiar, hinted, 
pathetic sweetness and melody. It charms and melts 
you. It's mdefinahle, hut it exists ; and is the pro- 
perty of John Gay's and Ohver Goldsmith's best verse, 
as fragrance is of a violet, or freshness of a rose. 

Let me read a piece from one of his letters, which is 
so famous that most people here are no doubt familiar 
with it, but so delightful that it is always pleasant to 
hear : — 

"I have just passed part of this summer at an old romantic 
seat of my Lord Harcourt's, which he lent me. It overlooks a 
common hayfield, where, under the shade of a haycock, sat two 
lovers — as constant as ever were found in romance — beneath a 
spreading bush. The name of the one (let it sound as it will) was 
John Hewet ; of the other, Sarah Drew. John was a well-set man, 
about five and twenty ; Sarah, a brave woman of eighteen. John had 
for several months borne the labour of the day in the same field with 
Sarah ; when she milked, it was his morning and evening charge to 
bring the cows to her pails. Their love was the talk, but not the 
scandal, of the whole neighbourhood, for all they aimed at was the 
blameless possession of each other in marriage. It was but this very 
morning that he had obtained her parents' consent, and it was but till 
the next week that they were to wait to be happy. Perhaps this 
very day, in the intervals of their work, they were talking of their 
wedding clothes; and John was now matching several kinds of 
poppies and field-flowers, to make her a present of knots for the day. 
While they were thus employed (it was on the last of July), a terrible 
storm of thunder and lightning arose, that drove the labourei-s to 
what shelter the trees or hedges afforded. Sarah, frightened and out 



gave us ease soon ; for the Duke [besides his own good taste] has a 
more particular research than any one now living, in discovering 
the taste of the public. He was quite right in this as usual ; the 
good nature of the audience appeared stronger and stronger every 
act, and ended in a clamour of applause." — Pope {Spences Anecdotes.) 



PRIOR, GAY, AND POPE. 181 

of breath, sunk on a haycock ; and John (who never sepai-ated from 
her) sat by her side, having raked two or three heaps together, to 
secure her. Immediately, there was heard so loud a crash, as if 
heaven had burst asunder. The labourers, all solicitous for each 
other's safety, called to one another : those that were nearest our lovers, 
hearing no answer, stepped to the place where they lay : they first 
saw a little smoke, and after, this faithful pair — John, with one arm 
about his Sarah's neck, and the other held over her face, as if to screen 
her from the lightning. They were struck dead, and already grown 
stiff and cold in this tender posture. There was no mark or dis- 
colouring on their bodies — only that Sarah's eyebrow was a little 
singed, and a small spot between her breasts. They were buried the 
next day in one grave ! " 

And tlie proof that this description is delightful and 
beautiful is, that the great Mr. Pope admired it so much 
that he thought proper to steal it and to send it off to 
a certain lady and wit, with whom he pretended to be 
in love in those days — my Lord Duke of Kingston's 
daughter, and married to Mr. Wortley Montagu, then 
his Majesty's Ambassador at Constantinople. 

We are now come to the greatest name on our list — 
the highest among the poets, the highest among the 
English wits and humourists with whom we have to 
rank him. If the author of the " Dunciad " be not a 
humourist, if the poet of the " Rape of the Lock " be 
not a wit, who deserves to be called so ? Besides that 
brilliant genius, and immense fame, for both of which 
we should respect liim, men of letters should admii'e 
him as being the greatest literary artist that England 
has seen. He poKshed, he refined, he thought ; he 
took thoughts from other works to adorn and complete 
his own ; borrowing an idea or a cadence from another 



183 ENGLISH HUMOUEISTS. 



poet as he would a figure or a simile from a flower, or 
a river, stream, or any object which struck him in his 
walk, or contemplation of Nature. He began to 
imitate at an early age;' and taught himself to write 
by copying printed books. Then he passed into the 
hands of the priests, and from his first clerical master, 
who came to him when he was eight years old, he went 
to a school at Twyford, and another school at Hyde 
Park, at which places he unlearned all that he had 

1 " Waller, Spenser, and Dryden were Mr. Pope's great favourites, in 
the order they are named in his first reading, till he was about twelve 
years old." — Pope {Spence's Anecdotes). 

" Mr. Pope's father (who was an honest merchant and dealt in 
Hollands, wholesale,) was no poet, but he used to set him to make 
English verses when very young. He was pretty difficult in being 
pleased ; and used often to send him back to new turn them. ' These 
are not good rhimes ; ' for that was my husband's word for verses. — 
Pope's Mother {Spence). 

'' I wrote things. I'm ashamed to say how soon. Part of an Epic 
Poem when about twelve. Tlie scene of it lay at Rhodes, and some of 
the neighbouring islands ; and the poem opened under water with a 
description of the Court of Neptune." — Pope (Ibid). 

*' His perpetual application (after he set to study, of himself,) 
reduced him in four years' time to so bad a state of health, that, after 
trying physicians for a good while in vain, he resolved to give way to 
his distemper ; and sat down calmly in a full expectation of death in a 
short time. Under this thought, he wrote letters to take a last 
farewell of some of his more particular friends, and among the rest 
one to the Abbd South cote. The Abbe was extremely concerned, both 
for his very ill state of health and the resolution he said he had taken. 
He thought there might yet be hope, and went immediately to Dr. 
RadcliflFe, with whom he was well acquainted, told him Mr. Pope's 
case, got full directions from him, and carried them down to Pope in 
Windsor Forest. The chief thing the doctor ordered him was to apply 
less, and to ride every day. The following his advice soon restored 
him to his health." — Pope (Ibid). 



PRIOR, GAY, AND POPE. 183 

got from liis first instructor. At twelve years old, he 
went with his father into Windsor Forest, and there 
learned for a few months under a fourth priest. " And 
this was all the teaching I ever had," he said, " and 
God knows it extended a very little way." 

When he had done with his priests he took to 
reading hy liimself, for which he had a very great 
eagerness and enthusiasm, especially for poetry. He 
learned versification from Dryden, he said. In his 
youthful poem of " Alcander," he imitated every poet, 
Cowley, Milton, Spenser, Statius, Homer, Virgil. In 
a few years he had dipped into a great number of the 
EngUsh, French, Itahan, Latin, and Greek poets. 
" This I did," he says, " without any design except to 
amuse myself; and got the languages hy hunting after 
the stories in the several poets I read, rather than read 
the books to get the languages. I followed everj^where 
as my fancy led me, and was like a boy gathering flowers 
in the fields and woods, just as they fell in his way. 
These five or six years I looked upon as the happiest 
in my life." Is not here a beautiful hohday pictm^e? 
The forest and the fairy story-book — the boy speUing 
Ariosto or Virgil under the trees, batthng with the Cid 
for the love of Chimene, or dreaming of Armida's 
garden — peace and sunshine romid about — the kindest 
love and tenderness waiting for him at his quiet home 
yonder — and Genius throbbing in his young heart, and 
whispering to him, " You shall be great ; you shaU be 



184 ENGLISH HUMOUEISTS. 

famous ; you, too, sliall love and sing ; you will sing her 
so nobly that some kmd heart shall forget you are weak 
and ill-formed. Every poet had a love. Fate must give 
one to you too," — and day by day he wallas the forest, 
very hkely looking out for that charmer. " They were 
the happiest days of his life," he says, when he was 
only dreaming of his fame : when he had gained that 
mistress she was no consoler. 

That charmer made her appearance, it would seem, 
about the year 1705, when Pope was seventeen. 
Letters of his are extant, addressed to a certain Lady 

M , whom the youth courted, and to w^hom he 

expressed his ardour in language, to say no worse of 
it, that is entirely pert, odious, and affected. He 
imitated love compositions as he had been imitating 
love poems just before — it was a sham mistress he 
courted, and a sham passion, expressed as became it. 
These unlucky letters found their way into print years 
afterwards, and were sold to the congenial Mr, Curll. 
If any of my hearers, as I hope they may, should take 
a fancy to look at Pope's correspondence, let them j)ass 
over that first part of it; over, perhaps, almost all 
Pope's letters to women ; in which there is a tone of 
not pleasant gallantry, and, amidst a profusion of com- 
pliments and politenesses, a something which makes 
one distrust the little pert, prurient bard. There is 
very little indeed to say about his loves, and that little 
not edifying. He wrote flames and raptures and 



PRIOR, GAY, AND POPE. 185 

elaborate verse and prose for Lady Mary Wortley 
Montagu ; but that passion probably came to a climax 
in an impertinence and was extinguished by a box on 
the ear, or some such rebuff, and he began on a sudden 
to hate her with a fervour much more genuine than that 
of his love had been. It was a feeble, puny grimace of 
love, and paltering with passion. After Mr. Pope had 
sent off one of his fine compositions to Lady Mary, he 
made a second draft from the rough copy, and favoured 
some other friend with it. He was so charmed with 
the letter of Gay's, that I have just quoted, that he 
had copied that and amended it, and sent it to Lady 
Mary as his own. A gentleman who writes letters a 
deux fins, and after having poured out his heart to the 
beloved, serves up the same dish rechauffe to a friend, 
is not very much in earnest about his loves, however 
much he may be in his piques and vanities when his 
impertinence gets its due. 

But, save that unlucky part of the Pope Corres- 
pondence, I do not know, in the range of our literature, 
volumes more delightful.* You live in them in the 



^ MR, POPE TO THE REV. MR. BROOME, PULHAM, NORFOLK. 

"Aug. 29th, 1730. 
"Dear Sir, — 

" I intended to write to you on this melancholy subject, the 

death of Mr. Fenton, before yours came, but stayed to have informed 

myself and you of the circumstances of it. All I hear is, that he felt 

a gradual decay, though so early in life, and was declining for five or 

six months. It was not, as I apprehended, the gout in his stomach, 

but, I believe, rather a complication fii'st of gross humours, as he was 



186 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

finest company in the world. A little stately, perhaps ; 
a little apprete and conscious that they are speaking to 

naturally corpulent, not discharging themselves as he used no sort of 
exercise. No man better bore the approaches of his dissolution {as I 
am told), or with less ostentation yielded up his being. The gi*eat 
modesty which you know was natural to him, and the great contempt 
he had for all sorts of vanity and parade, never appeared more than 
in his last moments : he had a conscious satisfaction (no doubt) in 
acting right, in feeling himself honest, true, and unpretending to more 
than his own. So he died as he lived, with that secret, yet sufficient 
contentment. 

" As to any papers left behind him, I dare say they can be but few ; 
for this reason, he never wrote out of vanity, or thought much of the 
applause of men. I know an instance when he did his utmost to 
conceal his own merit that way; and if we join to this his natural 
love of ease, I fancy we must expect little of this sort : at least, I have 
heard of none, except some few farther remarks on Waller (which his 
cautious integrity made him leave an order to be given to Mr. Tonson), 
and perhaps, though it is many years since I saw it, a translation of 
the first book of 'Oppian.' He had begun a tragedy of Dion, but 
made small progress in it. 

" As to his other affairs, he died poor but honest, leaving no debts 
or legacies, except of a few pounds to Mr. Trumball and my lady, in 
token of respect, gratefulness, and mutual esteem. 

" I shall, with pleasure, take upon me to draw this amiable, quiet, 
deserving, unpretending, Chx-istian, unphilosophical character in his 
epitaph. There truth may be spoken in a few woi'ds ; as for flourish, 
and oratory, and poetry, I leave them to younger and more lively 
writers, such as love writing for writing sake, and would rather show 
their own fine parts than report the valuable ones of any other man. 
So the elegy I renounce. 

" I condole with you from my heart on the loss of so worthy a man, 
and a friend to us both 

" Adieu ; let us love his memory, and profit by his example. Am 
veiy sincerely, dear sir, 

" Your affectionate and real servant." 

TO THE EARL OF BURLINGTON. 

"August, 1714. 
"My Lord, 

" If your mare could speak she would give you an account of 



PKIOE, GAY, AND POPE. 187 

whole generations who are listening ; but in the tone of 
their voices — pitched, as no doubt they are, beyond the 



what extraordinaiy company she had on the road, which, since she 
cannot do, I will. 

" It was the enterprising Mr. Lin tot, the redoubtable rival of Mr 
Tonson, who, mounted on a stone-horse, overtook me in Windsor 
Forest. He said he heard I designed for Oxford, the seat of the Muses, 
and would, as my bookseller, by all means accompany me thither. 

" I asked him where he got his horse ? He answered he got it of his 
publisher ; ' for that rogue, my printer (said he), disappointed me.' I 
hoped to put him in good humour by a treat at the tavern of a brown 
fricassee of rabbits, which cost ten shillings, with two quax'ts of wine, 
besides my conversation. I thought mj-self cock-sure of his horse, 
which he readily promised me, but said that Mr. Tonson had just such 
another design of going to Cambridge, expecting there the copy of a 

new kind of Horace from Dr. ; and if Mr. Tonson went, he was 

pre-engaged to attend him, being to have the printing of the said copy. 
So, in short, I borrowed this stone-horse of my pviblisher, which he 
had of Mr. Oldmixon for a debt. He lent me, too, the pretty boy you 
see after me. He was a smutty dog yestex'day, and cost me more than 
two hours to wash the ink off his face; but the devil is a fair- 
conditioned devil, and very forward in his catechism. If you have any 
more bags he shall carry them.' 

" I thought Mr. Lintot's civility not to be neglected, so gave the boy 
a small bag containing three shirts and an Elzevir Virgil, and, mounting 
in an instant, proceeded on the road, with my man before, my courteous 
stationer beside, and the aforesaid devil behind. 

" Mr. Lintot began in this manner : ' Kow, damn them ! "What if 
they should put it into the newspaper how you and I went together to 
Oxford 1 What would I care 1 If I should go down into Sussex they 
would say I was gone to the Speaker ; but what of that 1 If my son 
were but big enough to go on with tbe business, by G — d, I Vv'ould 
keep as good company as old Jacob.' 

" Hereupon, I inquired of his son. ' The lad (says he) has fine parts, 
but is somewhat sickly, much as you are. I spare for nothing in his 
education at Westminster. Pray, don't you think Westminster to be 
the best school in England ? Most of the late Ministiy came out of it ; 
so did many of this Ministry. I hope the boy will make his fortune.' 

" * Don't you design to let him pass a year at Oxford V 'To what 



188 ENGLISH HUMOUEISTS. 

mere conversation key — in the expression of tlieir 
thoughts, their various views and natures, there is 



purpose? (said he.) The Universities do but make pedants, and I 
intend to breed him a man of business.' 

" As Mr. Lintot was talking I observed he sat uneasy on his saddle, 
for which I expressed some solicitude. ' Nothing (says he). I can 
bear it well enough ; but, since we have the day before us, methinks it 
would be very pleasant for you to rest awhile under the woods.' 
When we were alighted, * See, here, what a mighty pretty Horace I 
have in my pocket ! What, if you amused yourself in turning an ode 
till we mount again 1 Lord ! if you pleased. What a clever miscel- 
lany might you make at leisure hours ! ' ' Perhaps I may,' said I, * if 
we ride on ; the motion is an aid to my fancy ; a round trot very 
much awakens my spirits; then jog on apace, and I'll think as hard as 
I can.' 

" Silence ensued for a full hour ; after which Mr. Lintot lugged the 
reins, stopped short, and broke out, ' Well, sir, how far have you gone 1 * 
I answered, seven miles. * Z — ds, sir,' said Lintot, ' I thought you had 
done seven stanzas. Oldsworth, in a ramble rovind Wimbleton-hill, 
would translate a whole ode in half this time. I'll say that for Olds- 
worth [though I lost by his Timothy's] he translates an ode of Horace 
the quickest of any man in England. I remember Dr. King would wx'ite 
verses in a tavern, three hours after he could not speak : and there is 
Sir Richard, in that rumbling old chariot of his, between Fleet-ditch 
and St. Giles's pound, shall make you half a Job.' 

"' Pi-ay, Mr. Lintot,' (said I) ' now you talk of translators, what is your 
method of managing them 1 ' Sir ' [replied he] ' these are the saddest 
pack of rogues in the world : in a hungry fit, they'll swear they under- 
stand all the languages in the universe. I have known one of them 
take down a Greek book upon my counter, and cry, '* Ah, this is Hebrew," 
and must read it from the latter end. By G — d, I can never be sure in 
these fellows, for I neither understand Greek, Latin, French, nor 
Italian myself. But this is my way ; I agree with them for ten shillings 
per sheet, with a proviso that, I will have their doings corrected with 
whom I please ; so by one or the other they are led at last to the true 
sense of an author; my judgment giving the negative to all my trans- 
lators.' ' Then how are you sux-e these correctors may not impose upon 
youl' 'Why I get any civil gentleman (especially any Scotchman) that 
comes into my shop, to read the original to me in English ; by this I 



PRIOR, GAY, AND POPE. 189 

something generous, and cheering, and ennobling. 
You are in the society of men who have filled the 



know whetlier my first translator be deficient, and whether my corrector 
merits his money or not. 

" 'I'll tell you what happened to me last month. I bargained with 

S for a new version of " Lucretius," to publish against Tonson's, 

agreeing to pay the author so many shillings at his producing so many 
lines. He made a great progress in a very short time, and I gave it to 
the corrector to compare with the Latin; but he went directly to 
Creech's translation, and found it the same, word for word, all but the 
first page. Now, what d'ye think I did ? I arrested the translator for 
a cheat ; nay, and I stopped the corrector's pay, too, upon the proof 
that he had made use of Creech instead of the original.' 

" * Pray tell me next how you deal with the critics 1 ' ' Sir,' said he, 
* nothing moi^e easy. I can silence the most formidable of them : 
the rich ones for a sheet a-piece of the blotted manuscript, which cost me 
nothing ; they'll go about with it to their acquaintance, and pretend they 
had it from the author, who submitted it to their correction : this has 
given some of them such an air, that in time they come to be consulted 
with and dedicated to as the tip-top critics of the town. — As for the poor 
critics, I'll give you one instance of my management, by which you may 
guess the rest : a lean man, that looked like a very good scholar, came 
to me, t'other day ; he turned over your Homer, shook his head, 
shrugged up his shoulders, and pish'd at every line of it. " One would 
wonder," (says he) "at the strange presumption of some men; Homer is no 
such easy task as every sti'ipling, every versifier" — he was going on, when 
my wife called to dinner ; " sir," said I, " will you please to eat a piece of 
beef with me ? "Mr. Lintot," said he, "I am veiy sorry you should be at 
the expense of this gi-eat book, I am really concerned on your account." 
*' Sir, I am much obliged to you : if you can dine upon a piece of beef 
together with a slice of pudding ] " — " Mr. Lintot, I do not say but Mr. 
Pope, if he would condescend to advise with men of learning." — " Sir, 
the pudding is upon the table, if you please to go in." My critic com- 
plies ; he comes to a taste of your'poetry, and tells me in the same breath, 
that the book is commendable, and the poetry excellent. 

" ' Now, sii-,' continued Mr. Lintot, ' in return to the frankness I have 
shown, pray tell me, is it the opinion of your friends at Court that my 
Lord Lansdowne will be brought to the bar or not ]' I told him I 
heard he would not, and I hoped it, my Lord being one I had parti- 



190 ENGLISH HUMOUKISTS. 

greatest parts in the world's story — you are with 
St. John the statesman ; Peterborough the conqueror ; 



cular obligations to. — ' That may be/ replied Mr. Lintot ; ' but by G — 
if be is not, I shall lose the printing of a very good trial.' 

" These, my Lord, are a few traits with which you discern the genius 
of Mr. Lintot, which I have chosen for the subject of a letter. I 
dropped him as soon as I got to Oxford, and paid a visit to my Lord 

Carleton, at Middleton 

" I am," &c. 

DR. SWIFT TO MR. POPE. 

"-Sfepi. 29, 1725. 

" I am now returning to the noble scene of Dublin — into the grand 
monde — for fear of burying my parts ; to signalize myself among 
curates and vicars, and correct all corruptions crept in relating to the 
weight of bread-and-butter through those dominions where I govern. 
I have employed my time (besides ditching) in finishing, correcting, 
amending, and transcribing my travels [Gulliver's], in four parts 
complete, newly augmented, and intended for the press when the 
world shall deserve them, or rather, when a printer shall be found 
brave enough to venture his ears. I like the scheme of our meeting 
after distresses and dissensions ; but the chief end I propose to 
myself in all my labours is to vex the world rather than divert it ; and 
if could I compass that design without hurting my own person or 
fortune, I would be the most indefatigable writer you have ever seen, 
without reading. I am exceedingly pleased that you have done with 
translations ; Lord Treasurer Oxford often lamented that a i-ascally 
world should lay you under a necessity of misemploying your 
genius for so long a time ; but since you will now be so much 
better employed, when you think of the world, give it one lash the 
more at my request. I have ever hated all societies, professions, and 
communities ; and all my love is towards individuals, — for instance, I 
hate the tribe of lawyers, but I love Counsellor Such-a-one and Judge 
Such-a-one : it is so with physicians (I will not speak of my own trade), 
soldiers, English, Scotch, French, and the rest. But principally I hate 
and detest that animal called man — although I heartily love John, 
Peter, Thomas, and so on. 

. ..." I have got materials towards a treatise proving the falsity of 
that definition animal rationale, and to show it should be only rationis 
capax The matter is so clear that it will admit of no 



PRIOR, GAY, Al^D POPE. 191 

Swift, the greatest wit of all times ; Gay, the kindliest 
laugher — it is a privilege to sit in that company. 



dispute — nay, I will hold a hundred pounds that you and I agree in 

the point 

" Dr. Lewis sent me an account of Dr. Arbuthnot's illness, which is 
a very sensible affliction to me, who, by living so long out of the 
world, have lost that hardness of heart contracted by years and 
general conversation. I am daily losing friends, and neither seeking 
nor getting others. Oh if the world had but a dozen of Arbuthnots 
in it, I would burn my * Travels !'" 

MR. POPE TO DR. SWIFT. 

" Octoler 15, 1725. 

''I am wonderfully pleased with the suddenness of your kind 
answer. It makes me hope you are coming towards us, and that you 

incline more and more to your old friends Here is one [Lord 

Bolingbroke] who was once a powerful planet, but has now (after long 
experience of all that comes of shining) learned to be content with 
returning to his first point without the thought or ambition of shining 
at all. Here is another [Edward, Earl of Oxford], who thinks one of 
the greatest glories of his father was to have distingtiished and loved 
you, and who loves you hereditarily. Here is Arbuthnot, recovered 
from the jaws of death, and more pleased with the hope of seeing you. 
again than of reviewing a world, every part of which he has long 
despised but what is made up of a few men like yourself. .... 

" Our friend Gay is used as the friends of Tories are by Whigs — and 
generally by Tories too. Because he had humour, he was supposed to 
have dealt with Dr. Swift, in like manner as when anyone had learning 
foi'merly, he was thought to have dealt with the devil 

" Lord Bolingbroke had not the least harm by his fall ; I wish he had 
received no more by his other fall. But Lord Bolingbroke is the most 
improved mind since you saw him, that ever was improved without 
shifting into a new body, or being paullo minus ah angelis. I have 
often imagined to myself, that if ever all of us meet again, after so 
many varieties and changes, after so much of the old world and of the 
old man in each of us has been altered, that scarce a single thought of 
the one, any more than a single action of the other, remains just the 
same ; I have fancied, I say, that we should meet like the righteous in 
the millennium, quite at peace, divested of all our former passions, 



192 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

Deliglitful and generous banquet ! with a little faith 
and a little fancy any one of us here may enjoy it, and 
conjure up those great figures out of the past, and 
listen to their wit and wisdom. Mind that there is 
always a certain cachet about great men — they may be 
as mean on many points as you or I, but they carry 
their great air — they speak of common life more 
largely and generously than common men do — they 
regard the world with a manlier countenance, and see 
its real features more fairly than the timid shufflers 
who only dare to look up at life through blinkers, or 
to have an opinion when there is a crowd to back it. 
He who reads these noble records of a past age, 
salutes and reverences the great spirits who adorn it. 
You may go home now and talk with St. John ; you 
may take a volume from your hbrary and listen to 
Swift and Pope. 

Might I give counsel to any young hearer, I would 
say to him, try to frequent the company of your betters. 
In books and life that is the most wholesome society ; 
learn to admire rightly ; the great pleasure of life is that. 
Note what the great men admired ; they admired great 
things : narrow spirits admire basely, and worship 



smiling at our past follies, and content to enjoy the kingdom of 
the just in tranquillity. 

****** 
" I designed to have left the following page for Dr. Arbuthnot to fill, 
but he is so touched with the period in yours to me, concerning him, 
that he intends to answer it by a whole letter." * * * 



PRIOR, GAY, AND POPE. 193 

meanly. I know nothing in any story more gallant 
and cheering, than the love and friendship which this 
company of famous men bore towards one another. 
There never has been a society of men more friendly, 
as there never was one more illustrious. Who dares 
quarrel with Mr. Pope, great and famous himself, for 
liking the society of men great and famous ? and for 
lildng them for the qualities which made them so ? A 
mere pretty fellow from "White's could not have written 
the " Patriot King," and would very likely have 
despised little Mr. Pope, tlie decrepit Papist, whom 
the great St. John held to be one of the best and 
greatest of men : a mere nobleman of the Court could 
no more have won Barcelona, than he could have written 
Peterborough's letters to Pope,* which are as witty as 

1 Of the Earl of Peterborough, Walpole says :— " He was one of 
those men of careless wit, and negligent grace, who scatter a thousand 
bons mots and idle verses, which we painful compilers gather and hoard, 
till the authors stare to find themselves authors. Such was this Lord, 
of an advantageous figure, and enterprising spirit ; as gallant as Amadis 
and as brave ; but a little more expeditious in his journeys ; for he is 
said to have seen more kings and more postilions than any man in 
Europe. ... He was a man, as his friend said, who would neither 
live nor die like any other mortal." 

FROM THE EARL OP PETERBOROUGH TO POPE. 

" You must receive my letter with a just impartiality, and give grains 
of allowance for a gloomy or rainy day ; I sink grievously with the 
weather-glass, and am quite spiritless when oppressed with the thoughts 
of a birthday or a return. 

" Dutiful alFection was bringing me to town, but uudutiful laziness, 
and being much out of order keep me in the country: however, if 

alive I must make my appearance at the birthday 

o 



194 ENGLISH HUMOUEISTS. 

Congreve : a mere Irish Dean could not liave written 
" Gulliver ; " and all these men loved Pope, and Pope 
loved all these men. To name his friends is to name 
the best men of his time. Addison had a senate ; Pope 
reverenced his equals. He spoke of Swift with respect 
and admiration always. His admiration for Boling- 
broke was so great, that when some one said of his 
friend, " There is something in that great man which 
looks as if he was placed here by mistake," " Yes," 
Pope answered, " and when the comet appeared to us 
a month or two ago, I had sometimes an imagination 
that it might possibly be come to carry him home, as 
a coach comes to one's door for visitors." So these 
great spirits spoke of one another. Show me six of the 
dullest middle-aged gentlemen that ever dawdled round 
a club -table, so faithful and so friendly. 

We have said before that the chief wits of this time, 



" You seem to think it vexatious that I shall allow you but one 
woman at a time either to praise or love. If I dispute with you on this 
point, I doubt, every fairy will gfve a verdict against me. So sir, with a 
Mahometan indulgence, I allow you pluralities, the favouiite privileges 
of our church. 

'' I find you don't mend upon correction ; again I tell you you must 

not think of women in a reasonable way : you know we always make 

Goddesses of those we adore upon earth ; and do not all the good 

men tell us we must lay aside reason in what relates to the Deity ? 

. . . I should have been glad of anything of Swift's. Pray when 

you write to him next, tell him I expect him with impatience, in a place 

as odd and as out of the way as himself. 

« Tour's." 

Peterborough married Mrs. Anastasia Robinson, the celebrated singer. 



PRIOR, GAY, AND POPE. 195 

witli the exception of Congreve, were wliat we should now 
call men's men. They spent many hours of the four- 
and-twenty, a fourth part of each day nearly, in ckibs, 
and coffee-houses, where they dined, drank, and smoked. 
Wit and news went by word of mouth; a journal of 
1710 contained the very smallest portion of one or the 
other. The chiefs spoke, the faithful habitues sate 
around ; strangers came to wonder and listen. Old 
Dryden had his head-quarters at Will's, in EusseU- 
street, at the corner of Bow-street, at which place Pope 
saw him when he was twelve years old. The company 
used to assemble on the first floor — what was called 
the dining-room floor in those days — and sate at various 
tables smoking their pipes. It is recorded that the beaux 
of the day thought it a great honour to be allowed to 
take a pinch out of Dryden' s snuff-box. When Addison 
began to reign, he with a certam crafty propriety — a 
policy let us call it — which belonged to his nature, set 
up his court, and appointed the officers of his royal 
house. His palace was Button's, opposite Will's.* A 



^ " Button had been a servant in the^ Countess of Warwick's family, 
who, under the patronage of Addison, kept a coffee-house on the south 
side of Russell-street, about two doors from Covent Garden. Here it 
was that the wits of that time used to assemble. It is said that 
when Addison had suffered any vexation from the Countess, he with- 
drew the company from Button's house, 

" From the coffee-house he went again to a tavern, where he often 
sat late and drank too much wine." — Dr. Johnson. 

Will's coffee-house was on the west side of Bow-street, and " comer 
of Russell-street." See " Handbook of London." 

o 2 



196 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

quiet opposition, a silent assertion of empire, distin- 
guished this great man. Addison's ministers were 
Budgell, Tickeil, Philips, Carey ; his master of the 
horse, honest Dick Steele, who was what Duroc was 
to Napoleon, a Hardy to Nelson ; the man who per- 
formed his master's bidding, and would have cheerfully 
died in his quarrel. Addison lived with these people 
for seven or eight hours every day. The male society 
passed over their punch-bowls and tobacco-pipes, about 
as much time as ladies of that age spent over Spadille 
and Manille. 

For a brief space, upon coming up to town. Pope 
formed part of King Joseph's court, and was his rather 
too eager and obsequious humble servant.' Dick Steele, 
the editor of the " Tatler," Mr. Addison's man, and his 
own man too, — a person of no little figure in the world 
of letters, patronised the young poet ; and set him a 
task or two. Young Mr. Pope did the tasks very 
quickly and smartly (he had been at the feet quite as 



^ " My acquaintance with Mr. Addison commenced in 1712 : I liked 
him then as well as I liked any man, and was very fond of his 
conversation. It was very soon after that Mr. Addison advised me 
'not to be content with the applause of half the nation.' He used 
to talk much and often to me, of moderation in parties : and used 
to blame his dear friend Steele for being too much of a pai-ty man. 
He encouraged me in my design of translating the * Iliad,' which 
was begvm that year, and finished in 1718."— Pope (Spence's Anecdotes.) 

"Addison had Budgell, and I think Phillips, in the house with 
him. — Gay, they would call one of my eleves. — They were angry with me 
for keeping so much with Dr. Swift, and some of the late ministry." — 
Pope [S^ence's Anecdotes.) 



PRIOK, GAY, AND POPE. 197 

a boy of AVj^clierle^^'s ' decrepit reputation, and propped 
up for a year that doting old wit) : he was anxious 
to be well with the men of letters, to get a footing 
and a recognition. He thought it an honour to be 
admitted into their company ; to have the confidence of 



^ " TO MR. ALCOURT. 

"/cm. 21, 1715-16. 

" I know of nothing that will be so interesting to you at present as 
some circumstances of the last act of that eminent comic poet and 
our friend, Wycherley. He had often told me, and I doubt not he did 
all his acquaintance, that he would marry as soon as his life was 
despaired of Accordingly, a few days before his death, he underwent 
the ceremony, and joined together those two sacraments which wise 
men say we should be the last to receive ; for, if you observe, 
matrimony is placed after extreme unction in our catechism, as a kind 
of hint of the order of time in which they are to be taken. The old 
man then lay down, satisfied in the consciousness of having, by this 
one act, obliged a woman who (he was told) had merit, and shown an 
heroic i-esentment of the ill-usage of his next heir. Some hundred 
pounds which he had with the lady, discharged his debts ; a jointure 
of 5001. a year made her a recompense ; and the nephew was left to 
comfort himself as well as he could with the miserable remains of a 
mortgaged estate. I saw our friend twice after this was done — less 
peevish in his sickness than he used to be in his health ; neither much 
afraid of dying, nor (which in him had been more likely) much 
ashamed of marrying. The evening before he expired, he called his 
young wife to the bedside, and earnestly entreated her not to deny 
him one request — the last he should make. Upon her assurances of 
consenting to it, he told her : ' My dear, it is only this — that you 
will never marry an old man again.' I cannot help remarking that 
sickness, which often destroys both wit and wisdom, yet seldom has 
power to remove that talent which we call humour. Mr. Wycherley 
showed his even in his last compliment ; though I think his request a 
little hard, for why should he bar her from doubling her jointure on 
the same easy terms 1 

"So trivial as these circumstances are, I should not be displeased 
myself to know such trifles when they concern or characterize any 
eminent person. The wisest and wittiest of men arc seldom wiser or 



198 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

Mr. Addison's friend, Captain Steele. His eminent parts 
obtained for him the honour of heralding Addison's 
triumph of " Cato," with his admirable prologue, and 
heading the victorious procession as it were. Not 
content with this act of homage and admiration, he 
wanted to distinguish himself, by assaulting Addison's 
enemies, and attacked John Dennis with a prose lam- 
poon, which highly offended his lofty patron. Mr. 
Steele was instructed to write to Mr. Dennis and inform 
him, that Mr. Pope's pamphlet against him was written 
quite without Mr. Addison's approval.^ Indeed, " The 
Narrative of Dr. Robert Norris on the phrenzy of 
J. D.," is a vulgar and mean satire, and such a blow 
as the magnificent Addison could never desire to see 
any partisan of his strike, in any literary quarrel. 
Pope was closely allied with Swift when he wrote this 
pamphlet. It is so dirty that it has been printed in 
Swift's works, too. It bears the foul marks of the 
master hand. Swift admired and enjoyed with all his 
heart the prodigious genius of the young Papist lad 



wittier than others in these sober moments ; at least, our friend 
ended much in the same character he had lived in ; and Horace's 
rule for play may as well be applied to him as a playwright : — 

" ' Servetvir ad imum, 
Qualis ab incepto processerit et sibi constet.' 

«' I am," &c. 

1 ''Addison, who was no stranger to the world, probably saw the 
selfishness of Pope's friendship; and, resolving that he should have 
the consequences of his officiousness to himself, informed Dennis by 
Steele that he was sorry for the insult." — Johnson {Life of Addison). 



PEIOE, GAY, AND POPE. 199 

out of Windsor Forest, who liacl never seen a University 
in his life, and came and conquered the Dons and the 
doctors with his wit. He applauded, and loved him, too: 
and protected him, and taught him mischief, I wish 
Addison could have loved him better. The best satire 
that ever has been penned would never have been 
written then ; and one of the best characters the world 
ever knew, would have been without a flaw. But he 
who had so few equals could not bear one, and Pope 
was more than that. When Pope, trying for himself, 
and soaring on his immortal young wings, found 
that his, too, was a genius, which no pinion of 
that age could follow, he rose and left Addison's 
company, settling on his own eminence, and singing 
his own song. 

It was not possible that Pope should remain a 
retainer of Mr. Addison; nor likely that after escaping 
from his vassalage and assuming an independent 
crown, the sovereign whose allegiance he quitted should 
view him amicably.' They did not do wrong to mislike 
each other. They but followed the impulse of nature, and 



^ '' AVhile I was heated with what I had heard, I wrote a letter to 
Mr. Addison, to let him know ' that I was not unacquainted with this 
behaviour of his ; that if I was to speak of him severely in return for 
it, it should not be in such a dirty way ; that I should rather tell him 
himself fairly of his faults, and allow his good qualities ; and that it 
should be something in the following manner.' I then subjoined the 
first sketch of what has since been called my satire on Addison. He 
used me very civilly ever after ; and never did me any injustice, that 
I know of, from that time to his death, which was about three year« 
after." — Pope {Spence's Anecdotes). 



200 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

the consequence of position. Wlien Bernadotte became 
heir to a throne, the Prince Royal of Sweden was 
naturally Napoleon's enemy. " There are many 
passions and tempers of mankind," says Mr. Addison 
in the " Spectator," speaking a couple of j^ears before 
their little differences between him and Mr. Pope took 
place, " w^hich naturally dispose us to depress and vilify 
the merit of one rising in the esteem of mankind. All 
those who made their entrance into the world with the 
same advantages, and w^ere once looked on as his equals, 
are apt to think the fame of his merits a reflection on 
their own deserts. Those, who were once his equals, envy 
and defame him, because they now see him the superior ; 
and those who were once his superiors, because they 
look uj)on him as their equal." Did Mr. Addison, 
justly perhaps thinking, that as young Mr. Pope had 
not had the benefit of a university education, he 
couldn't know Greek, therefore he couldn't translate 
Homer, encourage his young friend, Mr. Tickell, of 
Queen's, to translate that poet, and aid him with his 
own know^n scholarship and skill ? ' It was natural that 
Mr. Addison should doubt of the learning of an 
amateur Grecian ; should have a high opinion of 
Mr. Tickell, of Queen's ; and should help that ingenious 



^ " That Tickell slioiild have been guilty of a villainy seems to us 
highly improbable ; that Addison should have been guilty of a villainy 
seems to us highly improbable ; but that these two men should have 
conspired together to commit a villainy, seems, to us, improbable in a 
tenfold degree." — Macaulay. 



PKIOR, GAY, AND POPE. 201 



youiig man. It was natural, on tlie other hand, that 
Mr. Pope and Mr. Pope's friends should believe that 
this counter-translation, suddenly advertised and so 
long written, though Tickell's college friends had 
never heard of it — though when Pope first wrote to 
Addison regarding his scheme, Mr. Addison knew 
nothing of the similar project of Tickell, of Queen's — 
it was natural that Mr. Pope and his friends, having 
interests, pensions, and prejudices of his own, should 
believe that Tickell's translation was but an act of 
opposition against Pope, and that they should call 
Mr. Tickell's emulation Mr. Addison's envy — if envy it 
were. 

'* Aud were there one whose fires 
True genius kindles and fair fame inspires, 
Blest with each talent and each art to please, 
And born to write, converse, and live with ease ; 
Should such a man, too fond to rule alone, 
Bear like the Turk no brother near the throne ; 
View him with scornful yet with jealous eyes, 
And hate, for arts that caused himself to rise ; 
Damn with faint praise, assent with civil leer, 
And without sneering, teach the rest to sneer ; 
Willing to wound, and yet afraid to strike. 
Just hint a fault, and hesitate dislike ; 
Alike i-eserved to blame as to commend, 
A timorous foe and a suspicious friend ; 
Dreading even fools, by flatterers besieged. 
And so obliging that he ne'er obliged ; 
Like Cato give his little senate laws. 
And sit attentive to his own applause ; 
While wits and templars every sentence raise. 
And wonder with a foolish face of praise; 
Who but must laugh if such a man there be. 
Who would not weep if Atticus were he ? " 



202 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

"I sent tlie verses to Mr. Addison," said Pope, "and 
he used me very civilly ever after." No wonder lie did. 
It was sliame very likely more than fear that silenced 
him. Johnson recounts an interview between Pope and 
Addison after their quarrel, in which Pope was angry, 
and Addison tried to be contemptuous and calm. Such 
a weapon as Pope's must have pierced any scorn. It 
flashes for ever, and quivers in Addison's memor}^ His 
great figure looks out on us from the past — stainless 
but for that — pale, calm, and beautiful: it bleeds 
from that black wound. . He should be drawn, like 
St. Sebastian, with that arrow in his side. As he sent 
to Gay and asked his pardon, as he bade his step-son 
come and see his death, be sure he had forgiven Pope, 
when he made ready to show how a Christian could die. 

Pope then formed part of the Addisonian court for a 
short time, and describes himself in his letters as 
sitting with that coterie until two o'clock in the 
morning over punch and Burgundy amidst the fumes 
of tobacco. To use an expression of the present day, 
the "pace" of those viveurs of the former age was 
awful. Peterborough lived into the very jaws of death ; 
Godolphin laboured all day and gambled at night ; 
Bolingbroke, ' writing to Swift, from Dawle}^, in his 



1 LORD BOLINGBROKE TO THE THREE YAHOOS OF TWICKENHAM. 

''July 23, 1726. 
"Jonathan, Alexander, John, most excellent Triumvirs op 
Parnassus, — 

" Though you are probably very indiflferent where I am, or what 



PRIOR, GAY, AND POPE. 203 

retirement, dating his letter at six o'clock in the 
morning, and rising, as he says, refreshed, serene, and 
calm, calls to mind the time of his London Hfe ; when 
about that hour he used to be going to bed, surfeited 
with pleasure, and jaded with business; his head often 
full of schemes, and his heart as often full of anxiety. 
It was too hard, too coarse a life for the sensitive, 
sickly Pope. He was the only wit of the day, a friend 
writes to me, who wasn't fat.^ Swift was fat ; Addison 
was fat ; Steele was fat ; Gay and Thomson w^ere pre- 
posterously fat — all that fuddling and punch-drinking, 
that club and coffee-house boozing, shortened the lives 
and enlarged the waistcoats of the men of that age. 
Pope withdrew in a great measure from this boisterous 
London company, and being put into an independence 
by the gallant exertions of Swift ^ and his private friends, 



I am doing, yet I resolve to believe the contrary. I persuade myself 
that you have sent, at least fifteen times within this fortnight to 
Dawley farm, and that you are extremely mortified at mj' long silence. 
To relieve you, therefore, from this great anxiety of miud, I can do no 
less than write a few lines to you ; and I please myself beforehand with 
the vast pleasure which this epistle must needs give you. That I may 
add to this pleasure, and give further ^proofs of my beneficent temper, 
I will likewise inform you, that I shall be in your neighbourhood 
again, by the end of next week : by which time I hope that Jonathan's 
imagination of business will be succeeded by some imagination more 
becoming a professor of that divine science, la bagatelle. Adieu. 
Jonathan, Alexander, John, mirth be with you ! " 

^ Prior must be excepted from this observation. " He was lank and 
lean." 

2 Swift exerted himself, very much, in promoting the " Iliad " sub- 
scription ; and also introduced Pope to Harley and Bolingbroke. — Pope 
realised by the " Iliad " upwards of 5000^,, which he laid out partly in 



204 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

and by the enthusiastic national admiration which 
justly rewarded his great achievement of the Iliad, 
purchased that famous villa of Twickenham which his 
song and life celebrated; duteously bringing his old 
parents to live and die there, entertaining his friends 
there, and making occasional visits to London in his 
little chariot, in which Atterbury compared him to 
" Homer in a nutshell." 

"Mr. Dryden was not a genteel man," Pope quaintly 
said to Spence, speaking of the manners and habits of 
the famous old patriarch of Will's. With regard to 
Pope's own manners, we have the best contemporary 
authority that they were singularly refined and 
polished. With his extraordinary sensibility, with his 
known tastes, with his delicate frame, with his power 
and dread of ridicule, Pope could have been no other 
than what we call a highly-bred person.' His closest 
friends, with the exception of Swift, were among the 
delights and ornaments of the polished society of their 
age. Garth,^ the accomplished and benevolent, whom 



annuities, and partly in the purchase of his famous villa. Johnson 
remaiks that " it would be hard to find a man so well entitled to notice 
by his wit, that ever delighted so much in talking of his money." 

^ "His (Pope's) voice in commoa conversation was so naturally 
musical, that I remember honest Tom Southerne used always to call 
him * the little nightingale,' " — Orreky. 

2 Garth, whom Dryden calls "generous as his Muse," was a York- 
shireman. He graduated at Cambridge, and was made M.D. in 1691. 
He soon distinguished himself in his profession, by his poem of the 
" Dispensary," and in society, and pronounced Dryden's funeral oration. 
He was a strict Whig, a notable member of the Kit-Kat, and a 



PRIOE, GAY, AND POPE. 205 

Steele has described so charmingly, of whom Codring- 
ton said that his character was " all beauty," and 
whom Pope himself called the best of Christians with- 
out knowing it ; Arbuthnot,' one of the wisest, wittiest, 



friendly, convivial, able man. He was knighted by George I., with 
the Duke of Marlborough's sword. He died in 1718. 

^ " Arbuthnot was the son of an episcopal clergj^man in Scotland, 
and belonged to an ancient and distinguished Scotch family. He was 
educated at Aberdeen ; and, coming up to London — according to a 
Scotch practice often enough alluded to — to make his fortune, first 
made himself known by " an examination of Dr. Woodward's account 
of the Deluge." He became physician, successively, to Prince George 
of Denmark and to Queen Anne. He is usually allowed to have been 
the most learned, as well as one of the most witty and humorous 
members of the Scriblerus Club. The opinion entertained of him by 
the humourists of the day is abundantly evidenced in their correspond- 
ence. "When he found himself in his last illness, he wrote thus, from 
his retreat at Hampstead, to Swift : 

" Ea7n2)stead, Oct. 4, 1734. 
" My dear and worthy Friend, — 

" You have no reason to put me among the rest of your 

forgetful friends, for I wrote two long letters to you, to which I never 

received one word of answer. The first was about your health ; the 

last I sent a great while ago, by one De la Mar. I can assure you with 

great truth that none of your friends or acquaintance has a more 

warm heart towards you than myself. I am going out of this 

troublesome world, and you, among the rest of my friends, shall have 

my last prayers and good wishes. 

. ..." I came out to this place so reduced by a dropsy and an 

asthma that I could neither sleep, breathe, eat nor move. I most 

earnestly desired and begged of God that he would take me. Contraiy 

to my expectation, upon venturing to ride (which I had forborne for 

some years), I recovered my strength to a pretty considerable degree, 

slept, and had my stomach again What I did, I can assure 

you was not for life, but ease ; for I am at present in the case of a 

man that was almost in harbour, and then blown back to sea — who 

has a reasonable hope of going to a good place, and an absolute 

certainty of leaving a very bad one. Not that I have any particular 



206 ENGLISH HUMOUPvISTS. 

most accomplished, gentlest of mankind ; Bolingbroke, 
the Alcibiades of his age; the generous Oxford; the 

disgust at tlie world ; for I have as great comfort in my own family 
and from the kindness of my friends as any man ; but the world, in 
the main, displeases me, and I have too true a presentiment of 
calamities that are to befal my country. However, if I should have 
the happiness to see you before I die, you will find that I enjoy the 
comforts of life with my usual cheerfulness. I cannot imagine why 
you are frightened from a journey to England : the reasons you assign 
are not sufficient — the journey I am sure would do you good. In 
general, I recommend riding, of which I have always had a good 
opinion, and can now confirm it from my own experience. 

'' My family give you their love and service. The great loss I 
sustained in one of them gave me my first shock, and the trouble I 
have with the rest to bring them to a right temper to bear the loss of 
a father who loves them, and whom they love, is really a most 
sensible affliction to me. I am afraid, my dear friend, we shall never 
see one another more in this world. I shall, to the last moment, 
preserve my love and esteem for you, being well assured you will 
never leave the paths of virtue and honour ; for all that is in this 
world is not worth the least deviation from the way. It will be great 
pleasure to me zo hear from you sometimes ; for none are with more 
sincerity than I am, my dear friend, your most faithful friend and 
humble servant." 

" Arbuthnot," Johnson says, " was a man of great comprehension, 
skilful in his profession, versed in the sciences, acquainted with ancient 
literature, and able to animate his mass of knowledge by a bright and 
active imagination ; a scholar with great brilliance of wit ; a wit who 
in the crowd of life, retained and discovered a noble ardour of religious 
zeal." 

Dugald Stewart has testified to Arbuthnot's ability in a department 
of which he was particularly qualified to judge : " Let me add, that 
in the list of philosophical reformers, the authors of * Martinus 
Scriblei-us ' ought not to be overlooked. Their happy ridicule of the 
scholastic logic and metaphysics is universally known; but few are 
aware of the acuteness and sagacity displayed in their allusions to 
some of the most vulnerable passages in Locke's Essay. In this part of 
the work it is commonly understood that Arbuthnot had the principal 
share." — See Preliminary Dissertation to Encyclo^cedia Britannica, note to 
p. 242, and also note B. b. b. p. 285. 



PRIOR, GAY, AN'D POPE. 207 

magnificent, the witty, the famous, and chivah^ous 
Peterborough : these were the fast and faithful friends of 
Poi)e, the most brilliant company of friends, let us 
repeat, that the world has ever seen. The favourite 
recreation of his leisure hours was the society of 
painters, whose art he practised. In his correspondence 
are letters between him and Jervas, whose j^upil he 
loved to be — Richardson, a celebrated artist of his 
time, and who painted for him a portrait of his old 
mother, and for whose picture he asked and thanked 
Jervas in one of the most delightful letters that ever 
was penned,* — and the wonderful Kneller, who bragged 
more, spelt worse, and painted better than any artist of 
his daj.^ 

^ TO MR, RICHARDSON. 

" TwicJcenham, June 10, 1733. 

" As I know you and I mutually desire to see one another, I hope 
that this day our wishes would have met, and brought you hither. 
And tliis for the very reason, which possibly might hinder you coming, 
that my poor mother is dead. I thank God, her death was as easy as 
her life was innocent ; and as it cost her not a groan, or even a sigh, 
there is yet ujDon her covintenance such an expression of tranquillity, 
nay, almost of pleasure, that it is even amiable to behold it. It would 
afford the finest image of a saint expired that ever painter drew ; and 
it would be the greatest obligation which even that obliging art could 
ever bestow on a friend, if you could come and sketch" it for me. I 
am sure, if there be no very precedent obstacle, you will leave any 
common business to do this ; and I hope to see you this evening, or 
to-morrow morning as early, before this winter flower is faded. I will 
defer her interment till to-morrow night. I know you love me, or I 
could not have written this — I could not (at this time) have written at 
all. Adieu ! May you die as happy ! 

" Yours, &c." 

2 "Mr. Pope was with Sir Godfrey Kneller one day, when his 



208 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

It is affecting to note, through Pope's correspondence, 
the marked way in which his friends, the greatest, the 
most famous, and wittiest men of the time — generals 
and statesmen, philosophers and divines, — all have a 
kind word, and a kind thought for the good simple old 
mother, whom Pope tended so affectionately. Those 
men would have scarcely valued her, but that they 
knew how much he loved her and that they pleased 
him by thinking of her. If his early letters to women 
are affected and insincere, whenever he speaks about 
this one, it is with a childish tenderness and an almost 
sacred simplicity. In 1713, when j^oung Mr. Pope 
had, by a series of the most astonishing victories and 
dazzling achievements, seized the crown of poetry; 
and the town was in an uproar of admiration, or 
hostihty, for the young chief; when Pope was issuing 
his famous decrees for the translation of the Iliad; 
when Dennis and the lower critics were hooting 
and assailing him ; when Addison and the gentlemen 
of his court were sneering with sickening hearts at the 
prodigious triumphs of the young conqueror ; when 
Pope, in a fever of victory, and genius, and hope, and 
anger, was struggling through the crowd of shouting 



nephew, a Guinea trader, came in. 'Nephew,' said Sir Godfrey, 'you 
have the honour of seeing the two greatest men in the world.' — *I 
don't know how great you may be,' said the Guinea man, ' but I don't 
like your looks : I have often bought a man, much better than both 
of you together, all muscles and bones, for ten guineas.'" — Dr. 
Warburton {Spences Anecdotes). 



PRIOR, GAY, AND POPE. 209 

friends and furious detractors to his temple of Fame, 
his old mother writes from the country, " My deare," 
says she, "my deare, there's Mr. Blount, of Mapel 
Durom, dead the same day that Mr. Ingiefield died. 
Your sister is well ; hut your hrother is sick. My 
service to Mrs. Blount, and all that ask of me. I 
hope to hear from 3'ou, and that you are well, which is 
my daily pra3'er; and this with my blessing." The 
triumph marches by, and the car of the young con- 
queror, the hero of a hundred brilliant victories — the 
fond mother sits in the quiet cottage at home, and says, 
" I send you my daity prayers, and I bless you, m}^ 
deare." 

In our estimate of Pope's character, let us always 
take into account that constant tenderness and fidelity 
of affection, which pervaded and sanctified his life, 
and never forget that maternal benediction.' It accom- 
panied him always : his life seems purified b}^ those 
artless and heartfelt prayers. And he seems to have 
received and deserved the fond attachment of the 
other members of his family. It is not a little touching 
to read in Spence of the enthusiastic admiration with 



^ Swift's mention of him as one, 

" ■ whose filial piety excells, 

Whatever Grecian story tells," 

is well known. And a sneer of Walpole's may be put to a better use 
than he ever intended it for, apropos of this subject. — He charitably 
sneers, in one of his letters, at Spence's " fondling an old mother — in 
imitation of Pope ! " 

p 



210 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

whicli his half sister regarded him, and the simple 
anecdote by which she illustrates her love. "I think 
no man was ever so little fond of money." Mrs. 
Rackett says about her brother, " I think my brother 
when he was young read more books than any man in 
the world ;" and she falls to telling stories of his school 
days, and the manner in which his master at Twj^ford 
ill used him. "I don't think my brother knew what 
fear was," she continues ; and the accounts of Pope's 
friends bear out this character for courage. When he 
had exasperated the dunces, and threats of violence 
and personal assault were brought to him, the daunt- 
less little champion never for one instant allowed fear 
to disturb him, or condescended to take any guard in 
his daily walks, except occasionally his faithful dog to 
bear him company. "I had rather die at once," said 
the gallant little cripple, " than live in fear of those 
rascals." 

As for his death, it was what the noble Arbuthnot 
asked and enjoyed for himself — a euthanasia — a beautiful 
end. A perfect benevolence, affection, serenity, hal- 
lowed the departure of that high soul. Even in the 
very hallucinations of his brain, and weaknesses of his 
delirium, there was something almost sacred. Spence 
describes him in his last days, looking up, and with a 
wrapt gaze as if something had suddenly passed before 
him. He said to me " What's that ? " pointing into the 
air with a very steady regard, and then looked down and 



PRIOR, GAY, AND POPE. 211 

said with a smile of the greatest softness, " 'twas a 
vision ? " He laughed scarcely ever, but his com- 
panions describe his countenance as often illuminated 
by a peculiar sweet smile. 

" When," said Spence,' the kind anecdotist whom 
Johnson despised, "when I was telling Lord Boling- 
broke that Mr. Pope, on every catching and recovery of 
his mind, was always saying something kindly of his 
present or absent friends ; and that this was so sur- 
prising, as it seemed to me as if humanity had out- 
lasted understanding,' Lord Bolingbroke said, 'It 
has so,' and then added, ^ I never in my life knew a 
man who had so tender a heart for his particular 
friends, or a more general friendship for mankind. I 
have known him these thirty years, and value myself 

more for that man's love than' Here," Spence 

says, " St. John sunk his head, and lost his voice in 
tears." The sob which finishes the epitaph is finer 
than words. It is the cloak thrown over the father's 
face in the famous Greek picture which hides the grief 
and heightens it. 

In Johnson's " Life of Pope," you will find described 



* Joseph Spence was the son of a clergyman, near Winchester. He 
was a short time at Eton, and afterwards became a Fellow of New 
College, Oxford, a clergyman and professor of poetry. He was a friend 
of Thomson's, whose reputation he aided. He published an " Essay on 
the Odyssey" in 1726, which introduced him to Pope. Everybody 
liked him. His "Anecdotes" were placed, while still in MS., at 
the service of Johnson and also of Malone. They were published by 
Mr. Singer in 1820, 

p 2 



212 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

with rather a malicious minuteness some of the personal 
habits and infirmities of the great little Pope. His 
body was crooked, he was so short that it was necessary 
to raise his chair in order to place him on a level with 
other people at table.* He was sewed up in a buckram 
suit every morning and required a nurse like a child. 
His contemporaries reviled these misfortunes with a 
strange acrimony, and made his poor deformed person 
the butt for many a bolt of heavy wit. The facetious 
Mr. Dennis, in speaking of him, saj^s, " If you take 
the first letter of Mr. Alexander Pope's Christian name, 
and the first and last letters of his surname, you have 
A. P. E." Pope catalogues, at the end of the Dunciad, 
with a rueful precision, other pretty names, besides 
Ape, which Dennis called him. That great critic 
pronounced Mr. Pope was a little ass, a fool, a coward, 
a Papist, and therefore a hater of scripture, and so 
forth. It must be remembered that the pillory was a 
flourishing and popular institution in those days. 
Authors stood in it in the bod}^ sometimes : and dragged 
their enemies thither morally, hooted them with foul 
abuse, and assailed them with garbage of the gutter. 



^ He speaks of Arbuthnot's having helped him through " that long 
disease, my life." But not only was he so feeble as is implied in his 
use of the "buckram," but" it now appears," says Mr. Peter Cunning- 
ham, " from his unpublished letters, that, like Lord Hei'vey, he had 
recourse to ass's-milk for the preservation of his health." It is to his 
lordship's use of that simple beverage that he alludes when he says — 

" Let Sporus tremble ! — A. What, that thing of silk, 
Sporus, that mere white-curd of ass's milk 1 " 



PRIOR, GAY, AND POPE. 213 

Poor Pope's figure was an easy one for tliose clumsy 
caricaturists to draw. Any stupid hand could draw a 
hunchback, and write Pope underneath. They did. 
A libel was j)ublished against Pope, with such a fron- 
tispiece. This kind of rude jesting was an evidence 
not only of an ill nature, but a dull one. When a child 
makes a pun, or a lout breaks out into a laugh, it is 
some very obvious combination of words, or discrepancy 
of objects, which provokes the infantine satirist, or 
tickles the boorish wag ; and many of Pope's revilers 
laughed, not so much because they were wicked, as 
because they knew no better. 

Without the utmost sensibiHty, Pope could not have 
been the jDoet he was ; and through his life, however 
much he protested that he disregarded their abuse, the 
coarse ridicule of his opponents stung and tore him. 
One of Gibber's j)amphlets coming into Pope's hands, 
whilst Eichardson the painter was with him, Pope 
turned round and said, " These things are my diver- 
sions : " and Richardson, sitting by whilst Pope perused 
the hbel, said he saw his features " writhing with 
anguish." How little human nature changes ! Can't 
one see that Uttle figure? Can't one fancy one is 
readmg Horace? Can't one fancy one is speaking of 
to-day ? 

The tastes and sensibilities of Pope, which led him 
to cultivate the society of persons of fine manners, or 
wit, or taste, or beaut}^, caused him to shrink equally 



214 ENGLISH HUMOUEISTS. 

from that shabby and boisterous crew which formed 
the rank and file of literature in his time : and he 
was as unjust to these men as they to him. The 
delicate little creature sickened at habits and com- 
pany which were quite tolerable to robuster men : and 
in the famous feud between Pope and the Dunces, and 
without attributing any pecuhar wrong to either, one 
can quite understand how the two parties should so 
hate each other. As I fancy, it was a sort of necessity 
that when Pope's triumph passed, Mr. Addison and 
his men should look rather contemptuously down on it 
from their balcony ; so it was natural for Dennis and 
Tibbaldj and Webster and Cibber^ and the worn and 
hungry press-men in the crowd below^ to howl at him and 
assail liim. And Pope was more savage to Grub-street, 
than Grub-street was to Pope. The thong with wliich 
he lashed them was dreadful; he fired upon that 
howling crew such shafts of flame, and poison, he slew 
and wounded so fiercely, that in reading the " Dunciad" 
and the prose lampoons of Popej one feels disposed to 
side against the ruthless little tyrant, at least to pity 
those wretched folks upon whom he was so unmerciful. 
It was Pope, and Swift to aid him^ who estabhshed 
among us the Grub-street tradition. He revels in 
base descriptions of poor men's want ; he gloats over 
poor Dennis's garret, and flannel night-cap, and red 
stockings ; he gives instructions how to find Curll's 
authors, the historian at the tallow-chandler's under the 



PRIOR, GAY, AND POPE. 215 

blind arch in Petty France, the two translators in bed 
together, the poet in the cock-loft in Budge Row, whose 
landlady keeps the ladder. It was Pope, I fear, who 
contributed, more than any man who ever lived, to 
depreciate the literary calHng. It was not an unpros- 
perous one before that time, as we have seen ; at least 
there were great prizes in the profession which had 
made Addison a minister, and Prior an ambassador, 
and Steele a commissioner, and Swift all but a bishop. 
The profession of letters was ruined by that libel of the 
" Dunciad." If authors were wTetched and poor before, 
if some of them lived in haylofts, of which theii' land- 
ladies kept the ladders, at least nobod}^ came to disturb 
them in their straw ; if three of them had but one coat 
between them, the two remained invisible in the garret, 
the third, at any rate, appeared decently at the coffee- 
house, and paid his twopence like a gentleman. It 
was Pope that dragged into light all this poverty and 
meanness, and held up those wretched shifts and rags 
to pubHc ridicule. It was Pope that has made gene- 
rations of the reading world (dehghted with the 
mischief, as who would not be that reads it ?) believe 
that author and wretch, author and rags, author and 
dirt, author and drink, gin, cow-heel, tripe, poverty, 
duns, bailiffs, squalling children, and clamorous land- 
ladies, were always associated together. The condition 
of authorship began to fall from the days of the 
"Dunciad : " and I believe in my heart that much of 



216 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

tliat obloquy which has smce pursued our calling was 
occasioned by Pope's libels and wicked wit. Everybody 
read those. Everybody was familiarised with the idea 
of the poor devil, the author. The manner is so capti- 
vating, that young authors practise it, and begin 
their career with satire. It is so easy to write, and so 
pleasant to read ! to fire a shot that makes a giant 
wince, j)erhaps; and fancy one's self his conqueror. 
It is easy to shoot — but not as Pope did — the shafts 
of his satire rise subhmely : no poet's verse ever 
mounted higher than that wonderful flight with which 
the " Dunciad " concludes : ' — 

'* She comes, she comes ! the sable throue behold ! 
Of night primeval aud of Chaos old ; 
Before her, Fancy's gilded clouds decay, 
And all its varying i-ainbows die away ; 
Wit shoots in vain its momentary fires, 
The meteor drops, and in a flash expii'es. 
As, one by one, at dread Medea's stz'uin 
The sick'ning stars fade off tlie ethereal plain ; 
As Argus' eyes, by Hermes' wand oppress'd, 
Closed one by one to everlasting rest ; — 
Thus, at her fell approach and secret might, 
Art after Art goes out, and all is night. 
See skulking Faith to her old cavern fled, 
Mountains of casuistiy heaped o'er her head; 
Philosophy, that leaned on Heaven before, 
Shrinks to her second cause and is no more. 
Religion, blushing, veils her sacred fires. 
And unawares Morality expires. 
Nor public flame, nor private, dares to shine, 
Nor human spark is left, nor glimpse divine. 



^ " He (Johnson) repeated to us, in his forcible melodious manner, 
the concluding lines of the ' Dunciad.' " — Boswell. 



PKIOR, GAY, AND POPE. 217 

Lo ! thy dread empire, Chaos, is restored, 
Light dies before thy ixncreating word ; 
Thy hand, great Anarch, lets the curtaiu fall, 
And universal darkness buries all." ^ 

In these astonisliing lines Pope reaches, I think, to 
the very greatest height which his sublime art has 
attained, and shows himself the equal of all poets of all 
times. It is the brightest ardour, the loftiest assertion 
of truth, the most generous A\isdom, illustrated by the 
noblest poetic figure, and spoken in words the aptest, 
grandest, and most harmonious. It is heroic courage 
speaking : a splendid declaration of righteous wrath 
and war. It is the gage flung down, and the silver 
trumpet ringing defiance to falsehood and tyranny 
deceit, dulness, superstition. It is Truth, the cham- 
pion^ shining and intrepid, and fronting the great 
world-tyrant with armies of slaves at his back. It is a 
wonderful and victorious single combat, in that great 
battle, which has always been waging since society 
began. 

In speaking of a Vv'ork of consummate art one does 
not try to show what it actually is, for tliat were vain ; 
but what it is like, and what are the sensations pro- 
duced in the mind of him who views it. And in consi- 
dering Poise's admirable career, I am forced into 



^ " Mr. Langton informed me that he once related to Johnson (on 
the authority of Spence), that Pope himself admu'ed these lines so 
much that when he repeated them his voice faltered, ' And well it 
might, sir,' said Johnson, ' for they are noble lines.' " — J. Boswell, 
junior. 



218 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

similitudes drawn from other courage and greatness, 
and into comparing him with those who achieved 
triumphs in actual war. I think of the works of young 
Pope as I do of the actions of young Bonaparte or 
young Nelson. In their common life you will find 
frailties and meannesses, as great as the vices and 
follies of the meanest men. But in the presence of 
the great occasion, the great soul flashes out, and con- 
quers transcendant. In thinking of the splendour of 
Pope's young victories, of his merit, unequalled as his 
renown, I hail and salute the achieving genius, and do 
homage to the pen of a hero. 



LECTURE THE FIFTH. 



HOGARTH, SMOLLETT, AND FIELDING, 

I SUPPOSE as long as novels last and authors aim at 
interesting their public, there must always be in the 
story a virtuous and gallant hero, a wicked monster his 
opposite, and a pretty girl who finds a champion ; 
bravery and virtue conquer beauty : and vice, after 
seeming to triumph through a certain number of pages, 
is sure to be discomfited in tlie last volume, when 
justice overtakes him and honest folks come by their 
own. There never was perhaps a greatly poj)ular 
story but this simple plot was earned through it : 
mere satiric wit is addressed to a class of readers and 
thinkers quite different to those simple souls W'ho 
laugh and weep over the novel. I fancy very few ladies 
indeed, for instance, could be brought to like " Gulliver " 
heartily, and (putting the coarseness and difference of 
manners out of the question) to relish the wonderful 
satire of "Jonathan Wild." In that strange apologue, the 
author takes for a hero the greatest rascal, coward^ 



220 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

traitor, tyrant, hypocrite, that his wit and experience, 
both large in this matter, could enable him to devise or 
depict; he accompanies this villain through all the 
actions of his life, with a grinning deference and a 
wonderful mock respect : and doesn't leave him, till he 
is dangling at the gallows, when the satirist makes him 
a low bow and wishes the scoundrel good day. 

It was not by satire of this sort, or by scorn and 
contempt, that Hogarth achieved his vast popularity 
and acquired his reputation.* His art is quite simple,^ 

^ Coleridge speaks of the " beautiful female faces " in Hogarth's 
pictures, " in whom," he says, '* the satirist never extinguished that love 
of beauty which belonged to him as a poet." — The Friend. 

- " I was pleased with the reply of a gentleman, who, being asked 
which book he esteemed most in his hbrary, answered ' Shakspeare : 
being asked which he esteemed next best, replied 'Hogarth.' His 
graphic representations are indeed books : they have the teeming, 
fruitful, suggestive meaning of words. Other pictures we look at — his 
prints we read 

" The quantity of thought which Hogarth crowds into every picture 
would almost uuvulgarise every subject which he might choose. . . . . 

"I say not that all the ridiculotis subjects of Hogarth have neces. 
Barily something in them to make us like them ; some are indifferent to 
us, some in their nature repulsive, and only made interesting by the 
wonderful skill and truth to nature in the painter; but I contend that 
there is in most of them that sprinkling of the better nature, which, 
like holy water, chases away and disperses the contagion of the bad. 
They have this in them, besides, that they bring us acquainted with the 
every-day human face, — they give us skill to detect those gradations of 
sense and virtue (which escape the careless or fastidious observer) in 
the circumstances of the world about us ; and prevent that disgust at 
common life, that tcedium quotidianarum formarum, which an un- 
restricted passion for ideal forms and beauties is in danger of producing. 
In this, as in many other thing?, they are analogous to the best novels 
of Smollett and Fielding." — Charles Lamb. 

" It has been observed that Hogarth's pictures are exceedingly unlike 



HOGARTH, SMOLLETT, Als^D FIELDING. 221 

he speaks popular parables to interest sirople hearts 
and to inspire them with pleasure or pity or warning and 
terror. Not one of his tales but is as easy as " Goody 
Two Shoes ; " it is the moral of Tommj'-was a naughty 
boy and the master flogged him, and Jacky was a good 
boy and had plum cake, which pervades the whole works 
of the homely and famous English moralist. And if 
the moral is written in rather too large letters after the 



any other representations of the same kind of subjects — that they form 
a class, and have a character, peculiar to themselves. It may be worth 
while to consider in what this general distinction consists. 

" In the first place, they are, in the strictest sense, historical pictures ; 
and if what Fielding says be true, that his novel of ' Tom Jones ' ought 
to be regarded as an epic prose-poem, because it contained a regular 
development of fable, manners, character, and passion, the compositions 
of Hogarth, will, in like manner, be found to have a higher claim to the 
title of epic pictures than many which have of late arrogated that de 
nomination to themselves. When we say that Hogarth treated his 
subjects historically, we mean that his works represent the manners 
and humours of mankind in action, and their characters by varied 
expression. Everything in his pictures has life and motion in it. Not 
only does the business of the scene never stand still, but every feature 
and muscle is put into full play ; the exact feeling of the moment is 
brought out, and carried to its utmost height, and then instantly seized 
and stamped on the canvass for ever. The expression is always taken 
en 'passant, in a state of progress or change, and, as it were, at the salient 

point His figures are not like the back-ground on which they 

are painted : even the pictures on the wall have a peculiar look of their 
own. Again, with the rapidity, variety, and scope of history, Hogarth's 
heads have all the reality and correctness of portraits. He gives the 
extremes of character and expression, but he gives them with perfect 
truth and accuracy. This is, in fact, what distinguishes his composi- 
tions from all others of the same kind, that they are equally remote 

from caricature, and from mere still life His faces go to 

the very verge of caricature, and yet never (we believe in any single 
instance) go beyond it." — Hazlitt. 



222 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

fable, we must remember how simple the scholars and 
schoolmaster both were, and like neither the less because 
they are so artless and honest. " It was a maxim of 
Dr. Harrison's," Fielding says in " Amelia," speaking 
of the benevolent divine and philosopher who represents 
the good principle in that novel — " that no man can 
descend below himself, in doing any act which may 
contribute to protect an innocent person, or to bring a 
rogue to the gallows ^ The moralists of that age had 
no compunction you see ; they had not begun to be 
sceptical about the theory of punishment, and thought 
that the hanging of a thief was a spectacle for edifica- 
tion. Masters sent their apprentices, fathers took 
their children, to see Jack Sheppard or Jonathan Wild 
hanged, and it was as undoubting subscribers to this 
moral law, that Fielding wrote and Hogarth painted. 
Except in one instance, where in the mad-house scene 
in the " Rake's Progress," the girl whom he has ruined 
is represented as still tending and weeping over liim in 
his insanity, a glimpse of pity for his rogues never 
seems to enter honest Hogarth's mind. There's not 
the slightest doubt in the breast of the jolly Draco. 

The famous set of pictures called " Marriage a la 
Mode," and which are exhibited at Marlborough House, 
in London, contains the most important and highly 
wrought of the Hogarth comedies. The care and 
method with which the moral grounds of these pictures 
are laid is as remarkable as the wit and sldll of the 



HOGARTH, SMOLLETT, AND FIELDING. 223 



observing and dexterous artist. He has to describe the 
negotiations for a marriage pending between the 
daughter of a rich citizen Alderman and young Lord 
Viscount Squanderfield, the dissipated son of a gouty 
old Earl. Pride and pomposity appear in every accessory 
surrounding the Earl. He sits in gold lace and velvet — 
as how should such an Earl wear anything but velvet 
and gold lace ? His coronet is everywhere : on his 
footstool on which reposes one gouty toe turned out ; 
on the sconces and looking-glasses ; on the dogs ; 
on his lordship's very crutches ; on his great chair 
of state and the great baldaquin behind him; under 
which he sits pointing majestically to his pedigree, 
which shows that his race is sprung from the loins of 
William the Conqueror, and confronting the old 
Alderman from the City, who has mounted his sword 
for the occasion, and wears his Alderman's chain, 
and has brought a bag full of money, mortgage deeds, 
and thousand pound notes, for the arrangement of the 
transaction pendmg between them. Whilst the steward 
(a methodist, therefore a hypocrite and cheat, for 
Hogarth scorned a pajoist and a dissenter,) is negotiating 
betAveen the old couple, their children sit together, 
united but apart. My lord is admiring his countenance 
in the glass, while his bride is twiddling her marriage 
ring on her pocket handkerchief; and listening with 
rueful countenance to Counsellor Silvertongue, who 
has been drawing the settlements. The girl is pretty, 



224 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

but the painter, with a curious watchfulness, has taken 
care to give her a likeness to her father, as in the young 
Viscount's face you see a resemblance to the Earl, his 
noble sire. The sense of the coronet pervades the 
picture, as it is supposed to do the mind of its wearer. 
The pictures round the room are sly hints indicating 
the situation of the parties about to marry. A martyr 
is led to the fire ; Andromeda is offered to sacrifice ; 
Judith is going to slay Holofernes. There is the 
ancestor of the house (in the picture it is the Earl 
himself as a young man), with a comet over his head, 
indicatmg that the career of the famil}^ is to be brilliant 
and brief. In the second picture, the old Lord must 
be dead, for Madam has now the Countess's coronet 
over her bed and toilet-glass, and sits listening to that 
dangerous Counsellor Silvertongue, whose portrait 
now actualty hangs up in her room, whilst the counsellor 
takes his ease on the sofa by her side, evidently the 
familiar of the house, and the confidant of the mistress. 
My lord takes his pleasure elsewhere than at home, 
whither he returns jaded and tipsy from the Eose, to 
find his wife yawning in her drawing-room, her whist- 
party over, and the daylight streaming in ; or he 
amuses himself with the very worst company abroad, 
whilst his wife sits at home listening to foreign singers, 
or wastes her money at auctions, or, worse still, seeks 
amusement at masquerades. The dismal end is known. 
My lord draws upon the counsellor, who kills him. 



HOGARTH, SMOLLETT, AND FIELDING. 225 

and is apprehended whilst endeavouring to escape. My 
lady goes back perforce to the Alderman in the City, 
and faints upon reading Counsellor Silvertongue's 
dying speech at Tj^burn, where the counsellor has been 
executed for sending his lordship out of the word. 
Moral : — Don't listen to evil silver-tongued counsellors : 
don't marry a man for his rank, or a woman for her 
money : don't frequent foolish auctions and masquerade 
balls unknown to your husband : don't have wicked 
companions abroad and neglect your wife, otherwise you 
will be run through the body, and ruin will ensue, and 
disgrace, and Tyburn. The people are all naughty, and 
Bogey carries them all off. In the " Rake's Progress," 
a loose life is ended by a similar sad catastrophe. It is 
the spendthrift coming into possession of the wealth 
of the paternal miser; the prodigal smTounded by 
flatterers, and wasting his substance on the very 
worst company ; the bailiffs, the gambling-house, and 
Bedlam for an end. In the famous story of Industry 
and Idleness, the moral is pointed in a manner similarly 
clear. Fair-haired Frank Goodchild smiles at his 
work, whilst naughty Tom Idle snores over his loom. 
Frank reads the edifying ballads of Whittington and 
the London 'Prentice. Whilst that reprobate Tom 
Idle prefers Moll Flanders, and drinks hugely of beer, 
Frank goes to church of a Sunday, and warbles hymns 
from the gallery; while Tom Hes on a tomb-stone 
outside playing at halfpenny-under-the-hat, with street 



226 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

blackguards, and deservedly caned by the beadle, 
Frank is made overseer of the business, whilst Tom 
is sent to sea. Frank is taken into partnership and 
marries his master's daughter, sends out broken 
victuals to the poor, and listens in his night-cap and 
gown with the lovely Mrs. Goodchild by his side, to 
the nuptial music of the City bands and the marrow- 
bones and cleavers ; whilst idle Tom, returned from 
sea, shudders in a garret lest the officers are coming 
to take him for picking pockets. The Worshipful 
Francis Goodchild, Esq., becomes Sheriff of London, 
and partakes of the most splendid dinners which 
money can purchase or Alderman devour ; whilst poor 
Tom is taken up in a night cellar, with that one-eyed 
and disreputable accomplice who first taught him to 
play chuck-farthing on a Sunday. What happens 
next? Tom is brought up before the justice of his 
country, in the person of Mr. Alderman Goodchild, 
who weeps as he recognises his old brother 'prentice, 
as Tom's one-eyed friend peaches on him, as the clerk 
makes out the poor rogue's ticket for Newgate. Then 
the end comes. Tom goes to Tyburn in a cart with a 
coffin in it ; whilst the Eight Honourable Francis 
Goodchild, Lord Mayor of London, proceeds to his 
Mansion House, in his gilt coach with four footmen 
and a sword-bearer, whilst the Companies of London 
march in the august procession, whilst the train bands 
of the City fire their pieces and get drunk in his 



HOGAETH, SMOLLETT, AXD FIELDING. 227 

honour ; and oli cro^Yning delight and glory of all, 
whilst his Majesty the King looks out from his royal 
balcony, with his ribbon on his breast, and his Queen 
and his star by his side, at the corner house of St. 
Paul's Chui'ch-yard, where the toy-shop is now. 

How the times have changed ! The new Post-of&ce 
now not disadvantage ously occupies that spot where 
the scaffolding is in the picture, where the tipsy train- 
band-man is lurching against the post, with his wig 
over one eye, and the 'prentice-boy is tr}Tng to kiss 
the pretty girl in the gallery. Past away prentice -boy 
and pretty girl ! Past away tipsy trainband-man with 
wig and bandolier I On the spot where Tom Idle 
(for whom I have an unaffected pity) made his exit 
from this wicked world, and where you see the hang- 
man smoking his pipe as he rechnes on the gibbet 
and views the hills of Harrow or Hampstead beyond — 
a splendid marble arch, a vast and modern city — 
clean, airy, painted drab, populous with nursery- 
maids and children, the abodes of wealth and 
comfort — the elegant, the prosperous, the polite 
Tyburnia rises, the most respectable district in tlie 
habitable globe ! 

In that last plate of the London Apprentices, in 
which the apotheosis of the Right Honourable Francis 
Goodchild is drawn, a ragged fellow is represented in 
the corner of the simple kindly piece, offering for sale 
a broadside, purporting to contain an account of the 

Q 2 



228 ENGLISH HUMOUEISTS. 

appearance of the gliost of Tom Idle, executed at 
Tyburn. Could Tom's ghost have made its appear- 
ance in 1800, and not in 1747, what changes would 
have been remarked by that astonished escaped 
criminal ! Over that road which the hangman used 
to travel constantly, and the Oxford stage twice a 
week, go ten thousand carriages every day : over 
yonder road, by which Dick Turj^in fled to Windsor, 
and Squire Western journeyed into town, when he 
came to take uj) his quarters at the Hercules Pillars 
on the outsku'ts of London, what a rush of civilisation 
and order flows now ! What armies of gentlemen 
with umbrellas march to banks, and chambers, and 
counting-houses ! What regiments of nursery-maids 
and pretty infantry ; what peaceful processions of 
policemen, what light broughams and what gay 
carriages, what swarms of busy apprentices and 
artificers, riding on omnibus-roofs, pass daily and 
hourly ! Tom Idle's times are quite changed : many 
of the institutions gone into disuse which were 
admired in his day. There's more pity and kindness 
and a better chance for poor Tom's successors now 
than at that simpler period when Fielding hanged 
him and Hogarth drew him. 

To the student of history, these admirable works 
must be invaluable, as they give us the most complete 
and truthful picture of the manners, and even the 
thoughts, of the past century. We look, and see pass 



HOGARTH, SMOLLETT, AND FIELDING. 229 

before us the England of a liundred years ago — the 
peer in his drawing-room, the lady of fashion in her 
apartraent, foreign singers surrounding her, and the 
chamber filled with gew-gaws in the mode of that 
day; the church, with its quaint florid architecture 
and singing congregation ; the parson with his great 
wig, and the beadle with his cane : all these are 
represented before us, and we are sure of the truth 
of the portrait. We see how the Lord Mayor dines 
in state ; how the prodigal drinks and sports at the 
bagnio; how the poor giii beats hemp in Bridewell; 
how the tliief divides his booty and drinks his punch 
at the night-cellar, and how he finishes his career at 
the gibbet. We may depend upon the perfect accuracy 
of these strange and varied portraits of the bygone 
generation : we see one of Walpole's members of 
Parliament cheered after his election, and the Heges 
celebrating the event, and drinking confusion to the 
Pretender : we see the grenadiers and trainbands of 
the City marching out to meet the enemy ; and have 
before us, with sword and firelock, and white Hano- 
verian horse embroidered on the cap, the very figures 
of the men who ran away with Johnny Cope, and who 
conquered at CuUoden. The Yorkshire waggon rolls 
into the inn-yard ; the country parson, in his jack- 
boots, and his bands and short cassock, comes trotting 
into town, and we fancy it is Parson Adams, with his 
sermons in his j)ocket. The Salisbury fly sets forth 



230 ENGLISH HFMOUKISTS. 

from the old Angel — you see the imssengers entering 
the great heavy vehicle, up the wooden steps, their 
hats tied down with handkerchiefs over their faces, 
and under their arms, sword, hanger, and case -bottle ; 
the landlady — apoplectic with the liquors in her own 
bar — is tugging at the bell ; the hunchbacked postillion 
— he may have ridden the leaders to Humphry 
Clinker — is begging a gratuity; the miser is grumbling 
at the bill ; Jack of the Centurion lies on the top 
of the clumsy vehicle, with a soldier by his side — it 
may be SmoUet's Jack Hatchway — it has a likeness 
to Lismahago. You see the suburban fair and the 
strolling company of actors ; the pretty milkmaid 
singing under the windows of the enraged French 
musician — it is such a girl as Steele charmingly 
described in the " Guardian," a few years before this 
date, singing under Mr. Ironside's window in Shire- 
lane, her pleasant carol of a May morning. You 
see noblemen and blacklegs bawling and betting in 
the Cockpit ; you see Garrick as he was arrayed in 
King Richard; Macheath and Polly in the dresses 
which they wore when they charmed our ancestors, 
and when noblemen in blue ribbons sat on the stage 
and listened to their delightful music. You see the 
ragged French soldiery, in their white coats and 
cockades, at Calais Gate — they are of the regiment, 
very likely, which friend Koderick Kandom joined 
before he was rescued by his preserver Monsieur de 



HOGARTH, SMOLLETT, AND FIELDING. 231 

Strap, mth whom he fought on the famous day of 
Dettiiigen. You see the judges on the bench ; the 
audience laughing in the pit ; the student in the 
Oxford theatre ; the citizen on his country walk ; you 
see Broughton the boxer, Sarah Malcolm the 
murderess, Simon Lovat the traitor, John Wilkes 
the demagogue, leering at you with that squint which 
has become historical, and with that face which, 
ugly as it was, he said he could make as captivating 
to woman as the countenance of the handsomest beau 
in town. All these sights and people are with 
you. After looking in the " Kake's Progress" at 
Hogarth's picture of St. James's Palace-gate, you 
may people the street, but little altered within these 
hundred years, with the gilded carriages and thronging 
chairmen that bore the courtiers your ancestors to 
Queen Caroline's drawing-room more than a hundred 
years ago. 

^Miat manner of man* was he who executed these 



^ Hogarth (whose family name was Hogart) was the grandson of 
a Westmoreland yeoman. His father, came to London, and wag an 
author and schoolmaster. William was born in 1698 (according to 
the most probable conjecture) in the parish of St. Martin, Ludgate. 
He was early apprenticed to an engraver of arms on plate. The following 
touches are from his Anecdotes of Himself (Edition of 1833.) 

" As I had naturally a good eye, and a fondness for drawing, shows 
of all sorts gave me uncommon pleasure when an infant ; and mimicry, 
common to all children, was remarkable in me. An early access to a 
neighbouring painter drew my attention from play ; and I was, at every 
possible opportunity, employed in making drawings. I picked up an 
acquaintance of the same turn, and soon learnt to draw the alphabet 



232 ENGLISH HUMOUEISTS. 

portraits — so various, so faithful, and so admirable ? 
In the London National Gallerj^ most of us have 



with great correctness. My exercises, wheu at school, were more 
remarkable for the oi'naments which adorned them, than for the exer- 
cise itself. In the former, I soon found that blockheads with better 
memories could much surpass me ; but for the latter I was particularly 
distinguished. . . . 

"I thought it still more unlikely that by pursuing the common 
method, and copying old drawings, I could ever attain the power of 
making nexo designs, which was my first and greatest ambition. I there- 
fore endeavoured to habituate myself to the exercise of a sort of tech- 
nical memory ; and by repeating in my own mind, the parts of which 
objects were composed, I could by degrees combine and put them down 
with my pencil. Thus, with all the drawbacks wliich resulted from the 
circumstances I have mentioned, I had one material advantage over 
my competitors, viz., the early habit I thus acquired of retaining in my 
mind's eye, without coldly copying it on the spot, what ever I intended 
to imitate. 

" The instant I became master of my own time, I determined to qualify 
myself for engraving on copper. In this I readily got employment; 
and frontispieces to books, such as prints to ' Hudibras,' in twelves, &c. 
soon brought me into the way. But the tribe of booksellers remained 
as my father had left them .... which put me upon publishing on 
my own account. But here again I had to encoimter a monopoly of 
printsellers, equally mean and destructive to the ingenious ; for the first 
plate I published, called 'The Taste of the Town,' in which the reigning 
follies were lashed, had no sooner begun to take a run, than I found 
copies of it in the print-shops, vending at half-price, while the original 
prints were returned to me again, and I was thus obliged to sell the 
plate for whatever these pirates pleased to give me, as there was no 
place of sale but at their shops. Owing to this, and other circumstances, 
by engraving, until I was near thirty, I could do little more than 
maintain myself; but even then, I ivas a punctual paymaster. 

*' I then married, and 

[But William is going too fast here. He made 'a stolen union ' on 
March 23, 1729, with Jane, daughter of Sir James Thornhill, serjeant- 
painter. For some time Sir James kept his heart and his purse-strings 
close, but ' soon after became both reconciled and generous to the young 
couple.' — Hogarth's Works, by Nichols and Steevens, vol. i. p. 44.] 



HOGAETH, SMOLLETT, AND FIELDIKG. 233 

seen the best and most carefully finished series of 
his comic paintings, and the portrait of his own 



" — commenced painter of small Conversation Pieces, from twelve to 
fifteen inches high. This being a novelty, succeeded for a few 
years." 

(About this time Hogarth had summer-lodgings at South Lambeth, 
and did all kinds of work, "embellishing" the "Spring Gardens" at 
" Vauxhall," and the like. In 1731, he published a satirical plate against 
Pope, founded on the well-known imputation against him of his having 
satirised the Duke of Chandos under the name of Timon, in his poem on 
Taste. The plate represented a view of Burlington House with Pope 
whitewashing it, and bespattering the Duke of Chandos's coach. Pope 
made no retort, and has never mentioned Hogarth.) 

" Before I had done anything of much consequence in this walk, I 
entertained some hopes of succeeding in what the puffers in books call 
The Great Style of History Painting ; so that without having had a stroke 
of this grand business before, I quitted small portraits and familiar con- 
versations, and with a smile at my own temerity, commenced history- 
painter, and on a great staircase at St. Bartholomew's Hospital, painted 
two Scripture stories, the ' Pool of Bethesda ' and the ' Good Samaritan,' 
with features seven feet high. . . . But as religion, the great pro- 
moter of this style in other countries, rejected it in England, I was 
unwilling to sink into a portrait mam(,facturer ; and still ambitious of 
being singular, dropped all expectations of advantage from that source, 
and returned to the pursuit of my former dealings with the public at 
large. 

" As to poi-trait-painting, the chief branch of the art by which a 
painter can procure himself a tolerable livelihood, and the only one by 
which a lover of money can get a fortune ; a man of veiy moderate 
talents may have great success in it, as the artifice and address of a 
mercer is infinitely more useful than the abilities of a painter. By the 
manner in which the present race of professors in England conduct it, 
that also becomes still life." 

****** 

*' By this inundation of folly and puff" {he has been speaMng of the suc- 
cess of Vanloo, who came over here in 1737), "I must confess I was much 
disgusted, and determined to try if by any means I could stem the torrent, 
and by opposing end it, I laughed at the pretensions of these quacks in 
colouring, ridiculed their productions as feeble and contemptible, and 



234^ ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

honest face, of which the bright bkie eyes shine out 
from the canvass and give you an idea of that keen 



asserted that it required neither taste nor talents to excel their most 
popular performances. This interference excited much enmity, because, 
as my opponents told me, my studies were in another way. You talk, 
added they, with ineffable contempt of portrait-painting ; if it is so easy 
a task, why do not you convince the world, b}?- painting a portrait your- 
self] Provoked at this language, I, one day at the Academy in St. 
Martin's Lane, put the following question : Supposing any man, at this 
time, were to paint a portrait as well as Vandyke, would it be seen or 
acknowledged, and could the artist enjoy the benefit or acquire the 
reputation due to his performance 1 

" They asked me in reply, If I could paint one as well 1 and I frankly 
answered, I believed I could. . . . 

" Of the mighty talents said to be requisite for portrait-painting, I 
had not the most exalted opinion." 

Let us now hear him on the question of the Academy : — 

" To pester the three great estates of the empire, about twenty or 
thirty students drawing after a man or a horse, appears, as must be 
acknowledged, foolish enough : but the real motive is, that a few 
bustling characters, who have access to people of rank, think they can 
thus get a superiority over their brethren, be appointed to places, and 
have salaries as in France, for telling a lad when a leg or an arm is too 
long or too short. . . . 

"France, ever aping the magnificence of other nations, has in its turn 
assumed a foppish kind of splendour sufficient to dazzle the eyes of the 
neighbouring states, and draw vast sums of money from this country. . . . 

" To return to our Royal Academy ; I am told that one of their leading 
objects will be, sending young men abroad to study the antique statues, 
for such kind of studies may sometimes improve an exalted genius, but 
they will not create it; and whatever has been the cause, this same 
ti-avelling to Italy has, in several instances that I have seen, reduced 
the student from nature, and led him to paint marble figures, in which 
he has availed himself of the great works of antiquity, as a coward does 
when he puts on the armour of an Alexander ; for, with similar pre- 
tensions and similar vanity, the painter supposes he shall be adored as 
a second Raphael Urbino." 

We must now hear him on his " Sigismunda : " — 

"As the most violent and virulent abuse thrown on * Sigismunda' 



HOGAETH, SMOLLETT, AND FIELDING. 235 

and brave look with which William Hogarth regarded 
the world. No man was ever less of a hero ; you 



was from a set of miscreants, with whom I am proud of having been 
ever at war, I mean the expounders of the mysteries of old pictures, I 
have been r.ometimes told they were beneath my notice. This is true of 
them individually, but as they have access to people of rank, who seem 
as happy in being cheated as these m.erchants are in cheating them, they 
have a power of doing much mischief to a modern artist. However 
mean the vendor of poisons the mineral is destructive : — to me its ope- 
ration was troublesome enough. Ill nature spread so fast that now 
was the time for every little dog in the profession to bark ! " 

Next comes a characteristic account of his controversy with Wilkes 
and Churchill. 

" The stagnation rendered it necessary that I should do some timed 
thing, to recover my lost time, and stop a gap in my income. This drew 
forth my print of ' The Times,' a subject which tended to the I'estoration 
of peace and unanimity, and put the opposers of these humane objects 
in a light which gave great offence to those who were trying to foment 
disaffection in the minds of the populace. One of the most notorious of 
them, till now my friend and flatterer, attacked me in a ' North Briton,' 
in so infamous and malign a style, that he himself, when pushed even 
by his best friends, was driven to so poor an excuse as to say he was 
drunk when he wrote it. . . . 

*' This renowned patriot's portrait, drawn like as I could as to features, 
and marked with some indications of his mind, fully answered my pur- 
pose. The ridiculous was apparent to every eye ! A Brutus ! A saviour 
of his country with such an aspect — was so arrant a fai*ce, that though 
it gave rise to much laughter in the lookers-on, galled both him and his 
adherents to the bone. ... 

" Churchill, Wilkes's toad-echo, put the ' North Briton ' into verse, 
in an Epistle to Hogarth; but as the abuse was precisely the same, 
except a little poetical heightening, which goes for nothing, it made no 
impression. . . . However, having an old plate by me, with some 
parts ready, such as the back-ground and a dog, I began to consider how 
I could turn so much work laid aside to some account, and so patched up 
a print of Master Churchill in the character of a Bear. The pleasure and 
pecuniary advantage which I derived from these two engravings, toge- 
ther with occasionally i-iding on horseback, restored me to as much 
health as can be expected at my time of life." 



236 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

see him before you, and can fancy what he was — a 
jovial, honest, London citizen, stout and sturdy; a 
hearty, plain-spoken man,* loving his laugh, his 
friends, his glass, his roast-beef of Old England, and 
having a proper bourgeois scorn for French frogs, for 
mounseers, and wooden shoes in general, for foreign 
fiddlers, foreign singers, and, above all, for foreign 
painters, whom he held in the most amusing 
contempt. 

It must have been great fun to hear him rage against 
Correggio and the Carracci; to watch him thump the 
table and snap his fingers and say, " Historical painters 
be hanged ; here's the man that will paint against any 



^ " It happened in the early part of Hogarth's life, that a nobleman 
who was uncommonly ugly and deformed came to sit to him for his 
picture. It was executed with a skill that did honour to the artist's 
abilities ; but the likeness was rigidly observed, without even the neces- 
sary attention to compliment or flattery. The peer, disgusted at this 
counterpart of himself, never once thought of paying for a reflection that 
would only disgust him with his deformities. Some time was suffered 
to elapse before the artist applied for his money ; but afterwards many 
applications wex-e made by him (who had then no need of a banker) for 
payment, without success. The painter, however, at last hit upon an 
expedient. ... It was couched in the following card : — 

" ' Mr, Hogarth's dutiful respects to Lord . Finding that he does 

not mean to have the picture which was drawn for him, is informed 
again of Mr, Hogarth's necessity for the money. If, therefore, his Lord- 
ship does not send for it, in three days, it will be disposed of, with the 
addition of a tail, and some other little appendages, to Mr. Hare, the 
famous wild beast man : Mr. Hogarth having given that gentleman a 
conditional promise of it, for an exhibition-picture, on his Lordship's 
refusal,' 

"This intimation had the desired effect." — Works by Nichols and 
Stcevens, vol. i. p. 25. 



HOGARTH, SMOLLETT, AND FIELDING. 237 

of them for a Imndrecl pounds. Correggio's * Sigis- 
munda ! ' Look at Bill Hogarth's ' Sigismunda ; 
look at my altar-piece at St. Mary Redcliffe, Bristol ; 
look at my ' Paul before Felix,' and see whether I'm 
not as good as the best of them." * 

Posterity has not quite confirmed honest Hogarth's 
opinion about his talents for the sublime. Although 
Swift could not see the difference between tweedle-dee 
and tweedle-dum, posterity has not shared the Dean's 
contempt for Handel; the world has discovered a 
difference between tweedle-dee and tweedle-dum, and 
given a hearty applause and admiration to Hogarth, 
too, but not exactly as a painter of scriptural subjects, 
or as a rival of Correggio. It does not take away from 
one's liking for the man, or from the moral of his 



1 " Garrick himself was not more ductile to flattery. A word in favour 
of 'Sigismunda' might have commanded, a proof-print or forced an 
original print out of our artist's hands." . . , 

'• The following authenticated story of our artist (furnished by the 
late Mr. Belchier, F.R.S., a surgeon of eminence) will also serve to show 
how much more easy it is to detect ill-placed or hyperbolical adulation 
respecting others, than when applied to ourselves. Hogarth, being at 
dinner with the great Cheselden and some other company, was told that 
Mr. John Freke, surgeon of St. Bartholomew's Hospital, a few evenings 
before at Dick's Coffee-house, had asserted that Greene was as eminent in 
composiition as Handel. ' That fellow Freke,' replied Hogarth, * is always 
shooting his bolt absurdly, one way or another. Handel is a giant in 
music ; Greene only a light Florimel kind of a composer.' ' Ay,' says 
our artist's informant, 'but at the same time Mr. Freke declared 
you were as good a portrait-painter as Vandyck.' ' There he was 

right,' adds Hogarth, ' and so, by G , I am, give me my time and 

let me choose my subject." — Worlcs by Nichols and Steevens, vol. i. pp. 
236, 237. 



238 ENGLISH HUMOUEISTS. 

story, or the humour of it, from one's admiration for 
the prodigious merit of his performances, to rememher 
that he persisted to the last in helieving that the world 
was in a conspiracy against him with respect to his 
talents as an historical painter, and that a set of mis- 
creants, as he called them, were employed to run his 
genius down. They say it was Liston's firm belief, 
that he was a great and neglected tragic actor; they 
say that every one of us believes in his heart, or would 
like to have others believe, that he is something which 
he is not. One of the most notorious of the " mis- 
creants," Hogarth says, was Wilkes, who assailed 
him in the " North Briton ; " the other was Churchill, 
who put the " North Briton" attack into heroic verse, 
and published his "Epistle to Hogarth." Hogarth 
replied by that caricature of "Wilkes, in which the 
patriot still figures before us, with his Satanic grin and 
squint, and by a caricature of Churchill, in which he is 
represented as a bear with a staff, on which, lie the 
first, lie the second, lie the tenth, is engraved in unmis- 
takeable letters. There is very little mistake about 
honest Hogarth's satire : if he has to paint a man with 
his throat cut, he draws him with his head almost off; 
and he tried to do the same for his enemies in this 
little controversy. " Having an old plate by me," says 
he, " with some parts ready, such as the background, 
and a dog, I began to consider how I could turn so 
much work laid aside to some account, and so patched 



HOGAETH, SMOLLETT, AND FIELDING. 239 

up a print of Master Churchill, in the character of a 
bear ; the pleasure and pecuniary advantage which I 
derived from these two engravings, together with occa- 
sionally riding on horseback, restored me to as much 
health as I can expect at my time of life." 

And so he concludes his queer little book of Anec- 
dotes, " I have gone through the circumstances of 
a life which till lately passed pretty much to my own 
satisfaction, and I hope in no respect injurious to any 
other man. This I may safely assert, that I have done 
my best to make those about me tolerably happy, and 
my greatest enemy cannot say I ever did an intentional 
injury. What may follow, God knows." 

A queer account still exists of a holiday jaunt taken 
by Hogarth and four friends of his, who set out, like 
the redoubted Mr. Pickwick and his companions, but 
just a hundred years before those heroes ; and made 
an excursion to Gravesend, Bochester, Sheerness, and 
adjacent places.* One of the gentlemen noted down 
the proceedings of the journey, for which Hogarth and 
a brother artist made drawings. The book is chiefly 
curious at this moment from showing the citizen life 
of those days, and the rough, jolly style of merriment, 
not of the five companions merely, but of thousands of 
jolly fellows of their time. Hogarth and his friends 



1 He made this excursion in 1732, his companions being John 
Thornhill (son of Sir James), Scott the landscape-painter, Tothall, and 
Forrest. 



240 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

quitting the Bedford Arms, Covent Garden, with a 
song, took water to Billingsgate, exchanging com- 
pliments with the bargemen as they went down the 
river. At Billingsgate, Hogarth made " a caracatura " 
of a facetious porter, called the Duke of Puddledock, 
who agreeably entertained the party with the humours 
of the place. Hence they took a Gravesend boat for 
themselves ; had straw to lie upon, and a tilt over their 
heads, they say, and went down the river at night, 
sleeping and singing jolly choruses. 

They arrived at Gravesend at six, when they washed 
their faces and hands, and had their wigs powdered. 
Then they sallied forth for Rochester on foot, and 
drank by the way three pots of ale. At one o'clock 
they went to dinner with excellent port, and a quan- 
tity more beer, and afterwards Hogarth and Scott 
played at hopscotch in the town hall. It would 
appear that they slept most of them in one room, and 
the chronicler of the party describes them all as waking 
at seven o'clock, and telling each other their dreams. 
You have rough sketches by Hogarth of the incidents 
of this holiday excursion. The sturdy little painter is 
seen sprawling over a plank to a boat at Gravesend ; 
the whole company are represented in one design, in a 
fisherman's room, where they had all passed the night. 
One gentleman in a night-cap is shaving himself ; 
another is being shaved by the fisherman ; a thii'd, 
with a handkerchief over his bald pate, is taking 



HOGARTH, SMOLLETT, AND FIELDING. 241 

liis breakfast ; and Hogarth is sketching the whole 
scene. 

They describe at night how they returned to their 
quarters, drank to their friends, as usual, emptied 
several cans of good flip, all singing merrily. 

It is a jolly party of tradesmen engaged at highjinks. 
These were the manners and pleasures of Hogarth, of 
his time verylikeh^, of men not very refined, but honest 
and merry. It is a brave London citizen, with John 
Bull habits, prejudices, and pleasures.^ 



' " Dr. Johnson made four lines once, on the death of poor Hogarth, 
which were equally true and pleasing : I know not why Garrick's were 
preferred to them : — 

" * The hand of him here torpid lies, 
That drew th' essential forms of grace ; 
Here closed in death, th' attentive eyes, 
That saw the manners in the face.' 

" Mr. Hogarth, among the variety of kindnesses shown to me when 
I was too young to have a proper sense of them, was used to be very 
earnest that I should obtain the acquaintance, and if possible, the friend- 
ship of Dr. Johnson ; whose conversation was, to the talk of other men, 
like Titian's painting compared to Hudson's, he said : ' but don't you tell 
people now that I say so (continued he) for the connoisseurs and I are 
at war, you know ; and because I hate them, they think I hate Titian — 
and let them ! ... Of Dr. Johnson, when my father and he were 
talking about him one day, 'That man (says Hogarth) is not contented 
with believing the Bible ; but he fairly resolves, I think, to believe 
nothing hut the Bible. Johnson (added he), though so wise a fellow, is 
more like King David than King Solomon, for he says in his haste, all 
men are liars.' " — Mrs. Piozzi. 

Hogarth died on the 26th of October, 1764. The day before his 
death, he was removed from his villa at Chiswick to Leicester Fields, 
"in a very weak condition, yet remarkably cheerful." He had just 
received an agreeable letter from Franklin. He lies buried at Chiswick. 



243 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

Of Smollett's associates, and manner of life, the 
author of the admirable " Humphrey Clinker," has 
given us an interesting account, in that most amusing 
of novels/ 

^ TO SIR WATKIN PHILLIPS, BART., OF JESUS COLLEGE, OXON. 

"Dear Phillips, — In my last, I mentioned my having spent an 
evening with a society of authors, who seemed to be jealous and afraid 
of one another. My uncle was not at all surprised to hear me say I was 
disappointed in their conversation. ' A man may be very entertaining 
and instructive upon paper,' said he, * and exceedingly dull in common 
discourse, I have observed, that those who shine most in private com- 
pany, are but secondary stars in the constellation of genius. A small 
stock of ideas is more easily managed, and sooner displayed, than a 
great quantity crowded together. There is very seldom anything exti-a- 
ordinary in the appearance and address of a good writer ; whereas a 
dull author generally distinguishes himself by some oddity or extra- 
vagance. For this reason I fancy that an assembly of Grubs must be 
very diverting.' 

" My curiosity being excited by this hint, I consulted my friend Dick 
Ivy, who undertook to gratify it the veiy next day, which was Sunday 
last. He carried me to dine with S — , whom you and I have long 
known by his writings. He lives in the skirts of the town ; and eveiy 
Sunday his house is open to all unfortunate brothers of the quill, whom 
he treats with beef, pudding, and potatoes, port, punch, and Calvert's 
entire butt beer. He has fixed upon the first day of the week for the 
exercise of his hospitality, because some of his guests could not enjoy 
it on any other, for reasons that I need not explain. I was civilly 
received in a plain, yet decent habitation, which opened backwards into 
a very pleasant garden, kept in excellent order ; and, indeed, I saw none 
of the outward signs of authorship either in the house or the landlord, 
who is one of those few writers of the age that stand upon their own 
foundation, without patronage, and above dependence. If there was 
nothing characteristic in the entertainer, the company made ample 
amends for his want of singularity. 

"At two in the afternoon, I found myself one of ten messmates 
seated at table ; and I question if the whole kingdom could produce 
such another assemblage of originals. Among their peculiarities, I do 
not mention those of dress, which may be purely accidental. What 



HOGAETH, SMOLLETT, AND FIELDING. 243 

I have no doubt that the above picture is as faithful 
a one as an}^ from the pencil of his kindred humourist, 
Hogarth. 



struck me were oddities originally produced by affectation, and after- 
wards confirmed by habit. One of them wore spectacles at dinner, and 
another his hat flapped ; though (as Ivy told me) the fii-st was noted 
for having a seaman's eye, when a bailiff was in the wind ; and the other 
was never known to labour imder any weakness or defect of vision, 
except about five years ago, when he was complimented with a couple 
of black eyes by a player, with whom he had quarrelled in his drink. 
A third wore a laced stocking, and made use of crutches, because, once 
in his life, he had been laid up with a broken leg, though no man could 
leap over a stick with more agility. A fourth had contracted such an 
antipathy to the country, that he insisted upon sitting with his back 
towards the window that looked into the garden ; and when a dish of 
cauliflower was set upon the table, he snuffed up volatile salts to keep 
him from fainting ; yet this delicate person was the son of a cottager, 
born under a hedge, and had many years run wild among asses on a 
common. A fifth affected distraction : when spoke to, he always 
answered from the purpose. Sometimes he suddenly started up, and 
rapped out a dreadful oath ; sometimes he burst out a laughing ; then 
he folded his arms, and sighed ; and then he hissed like fifty serpents. 
" At first, I really thought he was mad ; and, as he sat near me, began 
to be under some apprehensions for my own safety ; when our landloi'd, 
perceiving me alarmed, assured me aloud that I had nothing to fear. 

* The gentleman,' said he, ' is trying to act a part for which he is by no 
means qualified : if he had all the inclination in the woi'ld, it is not in 
his power to be mad ; his spirits are too flat to be kindled into phrenzy. 

* 'Tis no bad p-p-puff, how-owe ver,' observed a person in a tarnished laced 
coat : ' aff-ffected m-madness w-will p-pass for w-wit w-with nine-ninet- 
teeu out of t-twenty.' ' And affected stuttering for humour,' replied 
our landlord ; * though, God knows ! there is no affinity betwixt them.' 
It seems, this wag, after having made some abortive attempts in plain 
speaking, had recourse to this defect, by means of which he frequently 
extorted the laugh of the company, without the least expense of genius ; 
and that imperfection, which he had at first counterfeited, was now 
become so habitual, that he could not lay it aside. 

"A certain winking genius, who wore yellow gloves at dinner, had, on 
his first introduction, taken such offence at S — , because he looked and 

R 2 



244 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

We have before us, and painted by his own 
hand, Tobias Smollett, the manly, kindly, honest and 



talked, and ate and drank, like any other man, that he spoke con- 
temptuously of his understanding ever after, and never would repeat 
his visit, until he had exhibited the following proof of his caprice. Wat 
Wyvil, the poet, having made some unsuccessful advances towards an 
intimacy with S — , at last gave him to understand, by a third person, 
that he had written a poem in his praise, and a satire against his person : 
that if he would admit him to his house, the first should be immedi- 
ately sent to press ; but that if he persisted in declining his friendship, 
he would publish the satire without delay. S — replied, that he looked 
upon Wyvil's panegyric as, in effect, a species of infamy, and would 
resent it accordingly with a good cudgel ; but if he published the satire, 
he might deserve his compassion, and had nothing to fear from his 
revenge, Wyvil having considered the alternative, resolved to mortify 
S — by printing the panegyric, for which he received a sound drubbing. 
Then he swore the peace against the aggressor, who, in order to avoid 
a prosecution at law, admitted him to his good graces. It was the 
singularity in S — 's conduct, on this occasion, that reconciled him to 
the yellow-gloved philosopher, who owned he had some genius ; and 
from that period cultivated his acquaintance. 

" Curious to know upon what subjects the several talents of my fellow- 
guests were employed, I applied to my communicative friend Dick Ivy, 
who gave me to understand, that most of them were, or had been, 
understrappers, or journeymen, to more creditable authors, for whom 
they translated, collated, and compiled, in the business of book- 
making ; and that all of them had, at different times, laboured in the 
service of our landlord, though they had now set up for themselves in 
various departments of literature. Not only their talents, but also 
their nations and dialects, were so various, that our conversation 
resembled the confusion of tongues at Babel. We had the Irish brogue, 
the Scotch accent, and foreign idiom, twanged off by the most discordant 
vociferation ; for as they all spoke together, no man had any chance to 
be heard, unless he could bawl louder than his fellows. It must be 
owned, however, there was nothing pedantic in their discourse ; they 
carefully avoided all learned disquisitions, and endeavoured to be 
facetious : nor did their endeavours always miscarry ; some droll 
repartee passed, and much laughter was excited ; and if any individual 



HOGARTH, SMOLLETT, AKD FIELDIKG. 245 



ii'ascible ; worn and battered, but still brave and full 
of heart, after a long struggle against a bard fortune. 



lost his tempei- so far as to transgress tlie bounds of decorum, he was 
effectually checked by the master of the feast, who exerted a sort of 
paternal authority over this irritable tribe. 

" The most learned philosopher of the whole collection, who had been 
expelled the university for atheism, has made great progress in a refu- 
tation of Lord Bolingbroke's metaphysical works, which is said to be 
equally ingenious and orthodox : but, in the mean time, he has been 
presented to the grand jury as a public nuisance for having blasphemed 
in an alehouse on the Lord's-day. The Scotchman gives lectures on the 
pronunciation of the English language, which he is now publishing by 
subscription. 

" The Irishman is a political writer, and goes by the name of My Lord 
Potatoe, He wrote a pamphlet in vindication of a minister, hoping his 
zeal would be rewarded with some place or pension ; but finding 
himself neglected in that quarter, he whispered about that the 
pamphlet was written by the minister himself, and he pviblished an 
answer to his own production. In this he addressed the author under 
the title of ' your lordship,' with such solemnity, that the public 
swallowed the deceit, and bought up the whole impression. The wise 
politicians of the metropolis declared they were both masterly per- 
formances, and chuckled over the flimsy reveries of an ignorant 
garretteer, as the profound speculations of a veteran statesman, 
acquainted with all the secrets of the cabinet. The imposture was 
detected in the sequel, and our Hibernian pamphleteer retains no 
part of his assumed importance but the bare title of * my lord,' and 
the upper part of the table at the potatoe-ordinary in Shoe-lane. 

" Opposite to me sat a Piedmontese^ who had obliged the public with 
a humorous satire, entitled ' The Balance of the English Poets ; ' a 
performance which evinced the great modesty and taste of the author, 
and, in particular, his intimacy with the elegancies of the English 
language. The sage, who laboured under the aypo(po^ia, or 'horror 
of green fields,' had just finished a treatise on practical agriculture, 
though, in fact, he had never seen corn growing in his life, and was 
so ignorant of grain, that our entertainer, in the face of the whole 
company, made him own that a plate of hominy was the best rice-pudding 
he had ever eat. 



246 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

His brain liad been busied with a hundred different 
schemes ; he had been reviewer and historian, critic, 
medical writer, poet, pamphleteer. He had fought 



"The stutterer had almost finished his travels through Em*ope and 
part of Asia, without ever budging beyond the liberties of the Kiug's- 
bench, except in term-time, with a tipstaff for his companion : and as 
for little Tim Cropdale, the most facetious member of the whole 
society, he had happily wound up the catastrophe of a virgin tragedy, 
from the exhibition of which he promised himself a lai'ge fund of 
profit and reputation. Tim had made shift to live many years by 
writing novels, at the rate of five pounds a volume ; but that branch 
of business is now engrossed by female authors, who publish merely 
for the propagation of virtue, with so much ease, and spirit, and 
delicacy, and knowledge of the human heart, and all in the serene 
tranquillity of high life, that the reader is not only enchanted by their 
genius, but reformed by their morality. 

''After dinner, we adjourned into the garden, where I observed 
Mr. S — give a short separate audience to every individual in a small 
remote filbert-walk, from whence most of them dropped off one after 
another, without further ceremony." 

Smollett's house was in Lawrence -lane, Chelsea, and is now destroyed. 
See Handbook of London, p. 115. 

" The person of Smollett was eminently handsome, his features pre- 
possessing, and, by the joint testimony of all his surviving friends, 
his conversation, in the highest degree, instructive and amusing. Of 
his disposition, those who have read his works (and who has not 1) may 
form a very accurate estimate; for in each of them he has presented, 
and sometimes, under various points of view, the leading features of 
his own chai'acter without disguising the most uufavoui'able of 

them When unseduced by his satirical propensities, he 

was kind, generous, and humane to others ; bold, upright, and inde- 
pendent in his own character ; stooped to no patron, sued for no 
favour, but honestly and honourably maintained himself on his literary 
labours He was a doating father, and an affectionate hus- 
band ; and the warm zeal Avith which his memory was cherished by his 
surviving friends, showed clearly the reliance which they placed upon 
his regard." — Sir "Walter Scott. 



HOGAETH, SMOLLETT, AND FIELDING. 247 

endless literary battles ; and braved and ^Yielded for 
years the cudgels of controversy. It was a bard and 
savage fight in those days, and a niggard pay. He 
was oppressed by ilhiess, age, narrow fortune ; but his 
spirit was still resolute, and his courage steady ; the 
battle over, he could do justice to the enemy with 
whom he had been so fiercely engaged, and give a not 
unfriendly grasp to the hand that had mauled him. He 
is like one of those Scotch cadets, of whom history gives 
us so many examples, and whom, with a national fidelity, 
the great Scotch novehst has painted so charmingly. 
Of gentle birth' and narrow means, going out from his 



1 Smollett of Bonhill, in Dumbartonshire. Arms, az. "a bend, or 

between a lion rampant, ppr, holding in his paw a banner, arg 

and a bugle-horn, also ppr. Crest, an oak-tree, ppr. Motto, Viresco." 

Smollett's father, Archibald, was the fourth son of Sir James 
Smollett of Bonhill, a Scotch judge and member of Parliament, and 
one of the commissioners for framing the Union with England. Ai'chi- 
bald married, without the old gentleman's consent, and died early, 
leaving his children dependent on then* grandfather, Tobias, the 
second son, was born in 1721, in the old hovxse of Dalquharn in the 
valley of Leven ; and all his life loved and admired that valley and 
Loch Lomond beyond all the valleys and lakes in Europe. He learned 
the " rudiments " at Dumbarton Grammar-school, and studied at 
Glasgow. 

But when he w^as only eighteen, his grandfather died, and left him 
without provision (figuring as the old judge in " Roderick Random" in 
consequence, accor ling to Sir Walter). Tobias, armed with the 
" Regicide," a tragedy — a provision precisely similar to that with which 
Dr. Johnson had started, just before — came up to London. The 
" Regicide " came to no good, though at first patronised by Lord 
Lyttleton (" one of those little fellows who are sometimes called great 
men," Smollett says) ; and Smollett embarked as " surgeon's mate " on 



248 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

northern home to win his fortune in the world, and to 
fight his way, armed with courage, hunger, and keen 
wits. His crest is a shattered oak tree, with green 
leaves yet springing from it. On his ancient coat-of- 
arms there is a lion and a horn ; this shield of his was 
battered and dinted in a hundred fights and brawls,^ 
through wliich the stout Scotchman bore it courage - 



board a line-of-battle ship, and served in the Carthagena expedition, in 
1741. He left the service in the West Indies, and, after residing some 
time in Jamaica, returned to England in 1746. 

He was now unsuccessful as a physician, to begin with ; published 
the satires, "Advice " and "Reproof" — without any luck ; and (1747) 
married the "beautiful and accomplished Miss Lascelles." 

In 1748 he brought out his "Roderick Random," which at once 
made a " hit." The subsequent events of his life may be presented, 
chronologically, in a bird's-eye view : — ■ 

1750. Made a tour to Paris, where he chiefly wrote "Peregrine 
Pickle." 

1751. Published " Peregrine Pickle." 

1753. Published " Adventures of Ferdinand Count Fathom." 

1755. Published version of " Don Quixote." 

1756. Began the " Critical Review." 
1758. Pubhshed his " History of England." 

1763 — 1766. Travelling in France and Italy; published his 
" Travels." 

1769. Published "Adventures of an Atom." 

1770. Set out for Italy; died at Leghorn 21st of Oct., 1771, in the 
fifty-first year of his age. 

^ A good specimen of the old " slashing " style of writing is presented 
by the paragraph on Admiral Knowles, which subjected Smollett to 
prosecution and imprisonment. The admiral's defence on the occasion 
of the failure of the Rochfort expedition came to be examined before 
the tribunal of the " Critical Review." 

" He is," said our author, " an admiral without conduct, an engineer 
without knowledge, an officer without resolution, and a man without 
veracity ! " 



HOGAETH, SMOLLETT, AND FIELDING. 249 

ously. You see somehow that he is a gentleman, 
through all his battling and struggling, his poverty, 
his harcl-fought successes, and his defeats. His novels 
are recollections of his own adventures; his characters 
drawn, as I should think, from personages with 
whom he became acquainted in his own career of 
life. Strange companions he must have had ; queer 
acquaintances he made in the Glasgow College — in 
the country apothecary's shop ; in the gun-room of 
the man-of-war where he served as surgeon, and in 
the hard hfe on shore, where the sturdy adventurer 
struggled for fortune. He did not invent much, as 
I fancy, but had the keenest perceptive faculty, and 



Three months' imprisonment in the Kiog's Bench avenged this 
stinging paragraph. 

But the " Critical " was to Smollett a perpetual fountain of " hot 
water." Among less important controversies may be mentioned that 
with Grainger, the translator of " Tibullus." Grainger replied in a 
pamphlet ; and in the nest number of the " Eeview " we find him 
threatened with " castigation," as an " owl that has broken from his 
m.ew ! " 

In Dr. Moore's biography of him, is a pleasant anecdote. After 
publishing the '' Don Quixote," he returned to Scotland to pay a visit 
to his mother : — 

" On Smollett's arrival; he was introduced to his mother with the 
connivance of Mrs. Telfer (her daughter), as a gentleman from the 
West Indies, who was intimately acquainted with her son. The better 
to support his assumed character, he endeavoured to preserve a serious 
countenance, approaching to a frown ; but while his mother's eyes 
were riveted on his countenance, he could not refrain from smiling : 
she immediately sprung from her chair, and throwing her arms round 
his neck, exclaimed, ' Ah, my son ! my son ! I have found you at last ! ' 

" She afterwards told him, that if he had kept his austere looks and 



250 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

described what he saw with wonderful relish and 
delightful broad humour. I think Uncle Bowling, in 
" Roderick Bandom," is as good a character as Squke 
Western himself; and Mr. Morgan, the wild apothe- 
cary, is as pleasant as Dr. Caius. What man who 
has made his inestimable acquaintance — what novel 
reader who loves Don Quixote and Major Dalgetty — 
will refuse his most cordial acknowledgments to the 
admirable Lieutenant Lismahago. The novel of 
" Humphrey Clinker " is, I do think, the most 
laughable story that has ever been written since 
the goodly art of novel- writing began. Winifred 
Jenkins and Tabitha Bramble must keep Englishmen 
on the grin for ages yet to come ; and in their letters 
and the story of their loves there is a perpetual 
fomit of sparkling laughtel", as inexhaustible as 
Bladud's well. 



continued to gloom, he might have escaped detection some time longer, 
but ' your old roguish smile,' added she, ' beti"ayed you at once.' " 

*' Shortly after the publication of ' The Adventures of an Atom, 
disease again attacked Smollett w^ith redoubled violence. At- 
tempts being vainly made to obtain for him the office of Consul, in 
some part of the Mediterranean, he was compelled to seek a warmer 
climate, without better means of provision than his own precarious 
finances could afford. The kindness of his distinguished friend and 
countryman, Dr, Armstrong (then abi^oad), procured for T>i\ and Mrs. 
Smollett a house at Monte Nero, a village situated on the side of a 
mountain overlooking the sea, in the neighbourhood of Leghorn, a 
romantic and salutary abode, where he prepared for the press, the last, 
and like music * sweetest in the close,' the most pleasing of his compo- 
sitions, ' The Expedition of Humphrey Clinker.' This delightful work 
was published in 1771." — Sir Walter Scott. 



HOGAETH, SMOLLETT, A:N^D FIELDING. 251 

Fielding, too, has described, though with a greater 
hand, the characters and scenes which he knew and 
saw. He had more than ordinary opportunities for 
becoming acquainted with life. His family and 
education, first — his fortunes and misfortunes after- 
wards, brought him into the society of every rank 
and condition of man. He is himself the hero of his 
books: he is wild Tom Jones, he is wild Captain 
Booth, less wild, I am glad to think, than his pre- 
decessor, at least heartily conscious of demerit, and 
anxious to amend. 

When Fielding first came upon the town in 1727, 
the recollection of the great wits was still fresh in 
the coffee-houses and assemblies, and the judges 
there declared that j'oung Harr}^ Fielding had more 
spirits and wit than CongTeve or any of his brilliant 
successors. His figure was tall and stalwart ; his 
face handsome, manly, and noble-looking ; to the 
very last days of his life he retained a grandeur of 
air, and, although worn down by disease, his aspect 
and presence imposed respect upon the people round 
about him. 

A dispute took place between Mr. Fielding and the 
captain' of the ship in which he was making his last 
voyage, and Fielding relates how the man finally 
went down on his knees and begged his passenger's 



^ The dispute with the captain arose from the wish of that functionary 
to intrude on his right to his cabin, for which he had paid thirty pounds. 



252 ENGLISH HUMOUEISTS. 

pardon. He was living up to the last clays of his 
life, and his spirit never gave in. His vital power 
must have been immensely strong. Lady Mary 
Wortley Montagu^ prettily characterises Fielding and 
this capacity for happiness which he possessed, in a 
little notice of his death, when she compares him 



After recounting the circumstances of the apology, he characteristically 
adds : — 

" And here, that I may not be thought the sly trumpeter of my own 
praises, I do utterly disclaim all praise on the occasion. Neither did 
the greatness of my mind dictate, nor the force of my Chxistianity exact 
this forgiveness. To speak truth, I forgave him from a motive which 
make men much more forgiving, if they were much wiser than they are ; 
because it was convenient for me so to do." 

^ Lady Mary was his second cousin — their respective grandfathers 
being sons of George Fielding, Earl of Desmond, son of William, Earl 
of Denbigh. 

In a letter dated just a week before his death, she says, — 

" H. Fielding has given a true picture of himself and his first wife in 
the characters of Mr. and Mrs. Booth, some compliments to his own 
figui-e excepted ; and I am persuaded, several of the incidents he men- 
tions are real matters of fact. I wonder he does not perceive Tom 
Jones and Mr. Booth are sorry scoundrels. . . . Fielding has really 
a fluid of true humour, and was to be pitied at his first entrance into 
the world, having no choice, as he said himself, but to be a hackney 
writer or a hackney coachman. His genius desexwed a better fate; but 
I cannot help blaming that continued indiscretion, to give it the softest 
name, that has run through his life, and I am afraid still remains. 
. . . Since I was born no original has appeared excepting Congreve, 
and Fielding, who would, I believe, have approached nearer to his excel- 
lencies, if not forced by his necessities to pviblish without correction, 
and throw many productions into the world he would have thrown into 
the fii^e, if meat could have been got without money, or money without 
scribbling. ... I am sorry not to see any more of Peregrine 
Pickle's performances; I wish you would tell me his name." — Letters 
and Works (Lord Whai-ncMe's Ed.) vol. ill. p. 93, 94. 



HOGAETH, SMOLLETT, AND FIELDING. 253 

to Steele, wlio was as improvident and as happy as he 
was, and says that both should have gone on living 
for ever. One can fancy the eagerness and gusto 
with which a man of Fielding's frame, with his vast 
health and robust appetite, his ardent spirits, his 
joyful humour, and his keen and hearty relish for 
life, must have seized and drunk that cup of pleasure 
which the town offered to him. Can any of my 
hearers remember the j^outhful feats of a college 
breakfast — the meats devoured and the cups quaffed 
in that Homeric feast ? I can call to mind some 
of the heroes of those youthful banquets, and fancy 
young Fielding from Leyden rushing upon the feast, 
with liis great laugh and immense healthy j^oung 
appetite, eager and vigorous to enjoy. The young man's 
wit and manners made him friends everywhere : he 
lived with the grand Man's society of those days ; he 
was courted by peers and men of wealth and fashion. 
As he had a paternal allowance from his father. 
General Fielding, which, to use Henry's own phrase, 
any man might pay who would ; as he liked good 
wine, good clothes, and good company, which are all 
expensive articles to purchase, Harry Fielding began 
to run into debt, and borrow money in that easy 
manner in which Captain Booth borrows money in 
the novel : was in nowise particular in accepting a 
few pieces from the purses of his rich friends, and 
bore down upon more than one of them, as Walpole 



254 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

tells us only too truly, for a dinner or a guinea. To 
supply himself with the latter, he began to write 
theatrical pieces, having already, no doubt, a con- 
siderable acquaintance amongst the Oldfields and 
Bracegirdles behind the scenes. He laughed at 
these pieces and scorned them. Wlien the audience 
upon one occasion began to hiss a scene which he was 
too lazy to correct, and regarding which, when Garrick 
remonstrated with him, he said that the public was 
too stupid to find out the badness of his work ; — when 
the audience began to hiss, Fielding said, with charac- 
teristic coolness — " they have found it out, have 
they?" He did not prepare his novels in this way, 
and mth a very different care and interest laid the 
foundations and built up the edifices of his future 
fame. 

Time and showier have very Httle damaged those. 
The fashion and ornaments are, perhaps, of the 
architecture of that age ; but the buildings remain 
strong and lofty, and of admirable proportions — 
masterpieces of genius and monuments of workman- 
like skill. 

I cannot offer or hope to make a hero of Harry 
Fielding. Why liide his faults ? Why conceal his 
weaknesses in a cloud of periphrasis ? AMiy not 
show him, like him as he is, not robed in a marble 
toga, and draped and polished in a heroic attitude, 
but with inked ruffles, and claret stams on his 



HOGARTH, SMOLLETT, AND FIELDIXCI. 25 

tarnisiied laced coat, and on his manly face the marks 
of good fellowship, of illness, of kindness, of care : 
and wine-stained as you see him, and worn by care 
and dissipation, that man retains some of the most 
precious and splendid human qualities and endow- 
ments. He has an admii'able natui-al love of truth, the 
keenest instinctive antipathy to hypocrisy, the happiest 
satuical gift of laughing it to scorn. His "wit is 
wonderfully wise and detective ; it flashes upon a 
rogue and lightens up a rascal like a pohceman's 
lantern. He is one of the manliest and kindliest of 
human beings : in the midst of all his imperfections, 
he respects female innocence and infantine tenderness, 
as you would suppose such a great-hearted, courageous 
soul would respect and care for them. He could not 
be so brave, generous, truth-telling as he is, were he 
not mfinitely merciful, pitiful, and tender. He will 
give any man his x^urse — he can't help kindness and 
profusion. He may have low tastes, but not a mean 
mind ; he admires with all his heart good and virtuous 
men, stoops to no flatter}^ bears no rancour, disdains 
all disloyal arts, does his pubhc duty uprightly, is 
fondly loved by his family, and dies at his work.^ 

If that theory be — and I have no doubt it is — the 
right and safe one, that human nature is always 



^ He sailed for Lisbon, from Gravesend, on Sunday morning, Jiine 
30th, 1754 ; and began the "Journal of a Voyage " during the passage. 
He died at Lisbon, in the beginning of October of the same year. He 



256 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

pleased with the spectacle of mnocence rescued by 
fidelity, purity, and courage ; I suppose that of the 
heroes of Fielding's three novels, we should like 
honest Joseph Andrews the best, and Captain Booth 
the second, and Tom Jones the third.* 

Joseph Andrews, though he wears Lady Booby's 
cast-off livery, is, I think, to the full as polite as 
Tom Jones in his fustian-suit, or Captain Booth in 
regimentals. He has, like those heroes, large calves, 
broad shoulders, a high courage, and a handsome 
face. The accounts of Joseph's bravery and good 
qualities ; his voice, too musical to halloo to the 
dogs ; his bravery in riding races for the gentlemen 
of the county, and his constancy in refusing bribes 
and temptation, have something affecting in their 
naivete and freshness, and prepossess one in favour 
of that handsome J^oung hero. The rustic bloom of 
Fanny, and the delightful simplicity of Parson Adams 
are described with a friendliness which wins the reader 
of their story : we part with them with more regret 
than from Booth and Jones. 



lies buried there, in tlie English Protestant church-yard, near the 
Estrella Church, with this inscription over him : — 

"HENRICUS FIELDING, 

LUGET BRITANNIA GREMIO NON DATUM 

FOVERE NATUM." 

^ Fielding himself is said by Dr. Warton to have preferred "Joseph 

Andrews " to his other writings. 



HOGARTH, SMOLLETT, AND FIELDING. 257 

Fielding, no doubt, began to write this novel in 
ridicule of "Pamela," for which work one can under- 
stand the hearty contempt and antipathy which such 
an athletic and boisterous genius as Fielding's must 
have entertained. He couldn't do otherwise than laugh 
at the puny, cockney bookseller, pouring out endless 
volumes of sentimental twaddle, and hold him up to 
scorn as a moll-coddle and a milksop. His genius 
had been nursed on sack-posset, and not on dishes 
of tea. His muse had sung the loudest in tavern 
choruses, had seen the daylight streaming in over 
thousands of emptied bowls, and reeled home 
to chambers on the shoulders of the watchman. 
Richardson's goddess was attended by old maids and 
dowagers, and fed on muf&ns and bohea. "Milksop!" 
roars Harry Fielding, clattering at the timid shop- 
shutters. "Wretch! Monster! Mohock!" shrieks the 
sentimental author of "Pamela ; " ' and all the ladies 
of his court cackle out an affrighted chorus. Fielding 
proposes to write a book in ridicule of the author, 
whom he disliked and utterly scorned and laughed 



^ " Richardson," says worthy Mrs. Barbavild, in her Memoir of him, 
prefixed to his Correspondence, "was exceedingly hurt at this (' Joseph 
Andrews '), the more so as they had been on good terms, and he was very- 
intimate with Fielding's two sisters. He never appears cordially to have 
forgiven it (perhaps it was not in human nature he should), and he 
always speaks in his letters with a great deal of asperity of ' Tom Jones,' 
more indeed than was quite graceful in a rival author. No doubt he 
himself thought his indignation was solely excited by the loose morality 
of the work and of its author, but he could tolerate Gibber." 

S 



258 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

at; but lie is himself of so generous, jovial, and 
kindly a turn tliat he begins to like the characters 
which he invents, can't help making them manly and 
pleasant as well as ridiculous, and before he has 
done with them all loves them heartily every one. 

Richardson's sickening antipathy for Harry Fielding 
is quite as natural as the other's laughter and con- 
tempt at the sentimentalist. I have not learned that 
these likings and dishkings have ceased in the present 
day: and every author must lay his account not only 
to misrepresentation but to honest enmity among 
critics, and to being hated and abused for good as well as 
for bad reasons. Richardson dishked Fielding's works 
quite honestly : Walpole quite honestly spoke of him 
as vulgar and stupid. Their squeamish stomachs 
sickened at the rough fare and the rough guests 
assembled at Fielding's jolly revel. Indeed the cloth 
might have been cleaner : and the dinner and the com- 
pany were scarce such as suited a dandy. The kind 
and wise old Johnson would not sit down with him.* 
But a greater scholar than Johnson could afford to 
admire that astonishing genius of Harry Fielding : 
and we all know the lofty panegyric which Gibbon 
wrote of him, and which remains a towering monument 



^ It must always be borne in mind, that besides that the Doctor 
covildn't be expected to like Fielding's wild life (to say nothing of the 
fact, that they were of opposite sides in politics), Richardson was one 
of his earliest and kindest friends. Yet Johnson too (as Boswell tells 
us) read "Amelia" through without "stopping." 



HOGAETH, SMOLLETT, A:N^D FIELDmG. 259 



to the great novelist's memory. " Our immortal 
Fielding," Gibbon writes, " was of the younger 
branch of the Earls of Denbigh, who drew their 
origin from the Counts of Hapsburgh. The suc- 
cessors of Charles V. may disdain their brethren of 
England : but the romance of ' Tom Jones,' that 
exquisite picture of human manners, will outlive 
the palace of the Escmial and the Imperial Eagle 
of Austria." 

There can be no gainsaying the sentence of this 
great judge. To have your name mentioned by Gibbon, 
is like having it written on the dome of St. Peter's. 
Pilgrims from all the world admire and behold it. 

As a picture of manners the novel of " Tom Jones " 
is indeed exquisite : as a work of construction quite a 
wonder : the by-play of wisdom ; the power of ob- 
servation; the multiplied felicitous turns and thoughts; 
the varied character of the great Comic Ej^ic ; keep the 
reader in a perpetual admu-ation and curiosity.' But 



^ " Manners change from generation to generation, and with manners 
morals appear to change, — actually change with some, but appear to 
change with all but the abandoned, A young man of the present day 
who should act as Tom Jones is supposed to act at Upton, with Lady 
Bellaston, &c.. would not be a Tom Jones ; and a Tom Jones of the 
present day, without perhaps being in the gi'oimd a better man, would 
have perished rather than submit to be kept by a harridan of fortune. 
Therefore, this novel is, and indeed, pretends to be, no example of con- 
duct. But, notwithstanding all this, I do loathe the cant which can 
recomm.end "Pamela" and " Clarissa Harlowe" as strictly moral, although 
they poison the imagination of the young vsdth continued doses of tincf. 
lyttce, while Tom Jones is prohibited as loose. I do not speak of young 

s 2 



260 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

against Mr. Thomas Jones himself we have a right to 
put in a protest, and quarrel with the esteem the author 
evidently has for that character. Charles Lamb says 
finely of Jones, that a single hearty laugh from him 
" clears the air " — hut then it is in a certain state of 
the atmosphere. It might clear the au' when such 
personages as Blifil or Lady Bellaston poison it. But 
I fear very much that (except until the very last scene 
of the story,) when Mr. Jones enters Sophia's drawing- 
room^ the pure air there is rather tainted with the 
young gentleman's tobacco-pipe and punch. I can't 
say that I think Mr. Jones a vu^tuous character; I can't 
say but that I think Fielding's evident liking and 
admiration for Mr. Jones, shows that the great humour- 
ist's moral sense was blunted by his life, and that here 
in Art and Etliics, there is a great error. If it is right 
to have a hero, whom we may admire, let us at least 
take care that he is admirable : if, as is the j)lan of 
some authors (a plan decidedly against their interests, 
be it said), it is x^ropounded that there exists in life no 
such being, and therefore that in novels, the picture of 
life, there should appear no such character; then Mr. 
Thomas Jones becomes an admissible person, and we 
examine his defects and good qualities, as we do those 



women ; but a young man whose heart or feelings can be injured, or 
even his passions excited by this novel, is already thoroughly corrupt. 
There is a cheerful, sunshiny, breezy spirit, that prevails everywhere, 
strongly contrasted with the close, hot, day-dreamy continuity of 
Richardson." — Coleridge, Literary Remains, vol. ii. p. 374. 



HOGARTH, SMOLLETT, AND FIELDmG. 261 

of Parson Tliwackum, or Miss Seagrim. But a hero 
with a flawed reputation ; a hero spunging for a guinea; 
a hero who can't pay his landlady, and is obliged to let 
his honour out to hire, is absurd, and his claim to 
heroic rank untenable. I protest against Mr. Thomas 
Jones holding such rank at all. I protest even 
against his being considered a more than ordinary 
young fellow, ruddy-cheeked, broad-shouldered, and 
fond of wine and pleasure. He would not rob a church, 
but that is all; and a pretty long argument may be 
debated, as to which of these old types, the spendthrift, 
the hypocrite, Jones and Blifil, Charles and Joseph 
Surface, — is the worst member of society and the 
most deserving of censm^e. The prodigal Captain 
Booth is a better man than his predecessor Mr. Jones, 
in so far as he thinks much more humbly of himself 
than Jones did : goes down on his knees, and owns 
his weaknesses, and cries out "Not for my sake, but 
for the sake of my pure and sweet and beautiful wife 
Amelia, I pray you, critical reader, to forgive me." 
That stern moralist regards him from the bench (the 
judge's practice out of court is not here the question), 
and says, " Captain Booth, it is perfectly true that your 
life has been disreputable, and that on many occasions 
you have shown yourseK to be no better than a scamp 
— you have been tippling at the tavern, when the 
kindest and sweetest lady in the world has cooked your 
little supper of boiled mutton and awaited j^ou all the 



262 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

night ; you have spoilt the little dish of boiled mutton 
thereby, and caused pangs and pains to Amelia's 
tender heart/ You have got into debt without the 
means of paying it. You have gambled the money 
with which you ought to have paid your rent. You 
have spent in drink or in worse amusements the sums 
which your poor wife has raised upon her Httle home 
treasures, her own ornaments, and the toys of her 



' " Nor was she (Lady Mary Wortley Montagu) a stranger to that 
beloved first wife, whose picture he drew in his ' Amelia,' when, as she 
said, even the glowing language he knew how to employ, did not do more 
than justice to the amiable qualities of the original, or to her beauty, 
although this had sufiered a little from the accident related in the novel, 
— a frightful overturn, which destroyed the gristle of her nose. He 
loved her passionately, and she returned his affection. . . . 

" His biographers seem to have been shy of disclosing that after the 
death of this charming woman, he married her maid. And yet the act 
was not so discreditable to his character as it may sound. The maid had 
few personal charms, but was an excellent creature, devotedly attached 
to her mistress, and almost broken-hearted for her loss. In the first 
agonies of his own grief, which approached to frenzy, he found no relief 
but from weeping along with her ; nor solace when a degree calmer, but 
in talking to her of the angel they mutually regretted. This made her his 
habitual confidential associate, and in process of time he began to think 
he could not give his children a tenderer mother, or secure for himself 
a' more faithful housekeeper and nurse. At least, this was what he told 
his friends ; and it is certaia that her conduct as his wife confirmed it, 
and fully justified his good opinion." — Letters and Works of Lady 
Mary Wortley Montagu. Edited by Lord Wharncliffe. Jntrodioctory 
Anecdotes, vol. i. p. 80, 81. 

Fielding's first wife was Miss Craddock, a young lady from Salisbury, 
with a fortune of 1500/., whom he married in 1736. About the same 
time he succeeded, himself, to an estate of 200/. per annum, and on the 
joint amount he lived for some time as a splendid country gentleman 
in Derbyshire. Three years brought him to the end of his fortune ; 
when he returned to London, and became a student of law. 



HOGARTH, SMOLLETT, AND FIELDING. 263 

children. But, jou rascal ! you own humbly that you 
are no better than you should be ; you never for one 
moment pretend that you are anything but a miserable 
weak-minded rogue. You do in your heart adore that 
angelic woman, your wife, and for her sake, sirrah, you 
shall have your discharge. Lucky for you and for 
others like you, that in spite of your faihngs and imper- 
fections, pure hearts pity and love you. For your 
wife's sake you are permitted to go hence without a 
remand, and I beg you, by the way, to carry to that 
angelical lady the expression of the cordial respect and 
admii-ation of this court." Amelia pleads for her 
husband Will Booth : Amelia pleads for her reckless 
kindly old father, Harry Fielding. To have invented 
that character, is not only a triumph of art, but it is a 
good action. They say it was in his own home that 
Fielding knew her and loved her : and from his own 
wife that he drew the most charming character in 
English fiction — Fiction ! why fiction ? why not history ? 
I know Amelia just as w^ell as Lady Mary Wortley 
Montagu. I believe in Colonel Bath almost as much 
as in Colonel Gardiner or the Duke of Cumberland. 
I admire the author of " Amelia," and thank the kmd 
master who introduced me to that sweet and delightful 
companion and friend. Ameha perhaps is not a better 
story than " Tom Jones," but it has the better ethics ; 
the prodigal repents at least, before forgiveness, — 
whereas that odious broad-backed Mr. Jones, carries off 



264 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

his beauty with scarce an interval of remorse for 
his manifokl errors and short-comings ; and is not 
half punished enough before the great prize of fortune 
and love falls to his share. I am angry with Jones. 
Too much of the plum-cake and rewards of life fall to 
that boisterous, swaggering young scapegrace. Sophia 
actually surrenders without a proper sense of decorum ; 
the fond, foolish, palpitating little creature, — " Indeed, 
Mr. Jones," she says, — "it rests with you to appoint 
the day." I suppose Sophia is drawn from life as well 
as Ameha, and many a young fellow, no better than 
Mr. Thomas Jones, has carried by a coup de main the 
heart of many a Idnd girl who was a great deal too 
good for him. 

What a wonderful art ! "What an admirable gift of 
nature, was it by which the author of these tales was 
endowed, and which enabled him to fix our interest, 
to waken our sympathy, to seize upon our credulity, 
so that we believe in his people — speculate gravely 
upon their faults or their excellencies, prefer this 
one or that, deplore Jones's fondness for drink and 
play, Booth's fondness for play and drink, and the 
unfortunate position of the wives of both gentlemen — 
love and admire those ladies with all our hearts, and 
talk about them as faithfully as if we had breakfasted 
with them this morning in their actual drawing-rooms, 
or should meet them this afternoon in the Park! 
What a genius ! what a vigour ! what a bright- eyed 



HOGARTH, SMOLLETT, AN"D FIELDmO. 265 

intelligence and observation ! what a wholesome hatred 
for meanness and knavery ! what a vast sympathy ! 
what a cheerfulness ! what a manly relish of life ! 
what a love of human kind ! what a poet is here ! — 
watching, meditating, brooding, creating ! What 
multitudes of truths has that man left behind him ! 
"What generations he has taught to laugh wisely and 
fairly ! What scholars he has formed and accustomed 
to the exercise of thoughtful humour and the manly 
play of wit ! What a courage he had ! ^ What a 
dauntless and constant cheerfuhiess of intellect, that 
burned bright and steady through all the storms of 
his life, and never deserted its last wreck ! It is 
wonderful to think of the pains and misery which 



^ In the " Gentleman's Magazine" for 1786, an anecdote is related of 
Harry Fielding, "in whom," says the correspondent, "good-nature and 
philanthropy in their extreme degree were known to be the prominent 
features," It seems that "some parochial taxes" for his house in 
Beaufort Buildings had long been demanded by the collector. " At last, 
Harry went off to Johnson, and obtained by a process of literary mort- 
gage the needful sum. He was returning with it, when he met an old 
college chum whom he had not seen for many years. He asked the 
chum to dinner with him at a neighbouring tavern ; and learning that 
he was in difficulties, emptied the contents of his pocket into his. On 
returning home he was informed that the collector had been twice for 
the money. * Friendship has called for the money and had it,' said 
Fielding, ' let the collector call again.' " 

It is elsewhere told of him, that being in company with the Earl 
of Denbigh, his kinsman, and the conversation turning upon their rela- 
tionship, the Earl asked him how it was that he spelled his name 
" Fielding," and not " Feilding," like the head of the house 1 " I cannot 
tell, my lord," said he, " except it be that my branch of the family were 
the first that knew how to spell." 



266 ENGLISH HUMOUEISTS. 

the man suffered ; the pressure of want, illness, 
remorse which he endui'ed; and that the writer was 
neither malignant nor melancholy, his view of truth 
never warped, and his generous human kindness never 
surrendered/ 

^ In 1749, he was made Justice of the Peace for Westminster and 
Middlesex, an office then paid by fees, and very laborious, without being 
particularly reputable. It may be seen from his own words, in the 
Introduction to the " Voyage," what kind of work devolved upon him 
and in what a state he was, during these last years; and still more 
clearly, how he comported himself through all. 

" Whilst I was preparing for my journey, and when I was almost 
fatigued to death with several long examinations, relating to five dif- 
ferent murders, all committed within the space of a week, by different 
gangs of street-robbers, I received a message from his Grace the Duke 
of Newcastle, by Mr. Carrington, the King's messenger, to attend his 
Grace the next morning in Lincoln's Inn Fields, upon some business of 
importance : but I excused myself from complying with the message, as 
besides being lame, I was very ill with the great fatigues I had lately 
undergone, added to my distemper. 

"His Grace, however, sent Mr. Carrington the very next morning, 
with another summons ; with which, though in the utmost distress, I 
immediately complied ; but the Duke happening, unfortunately for me, 
to be then particularly engaged, after I had waited some time, sent a 
gentleman to discourse with me on the best plan which could be 
invented for these murders and robberies, which were every day com- 
mitted in the streets ; upon which I promised to ti'ansmit my opinion, 
in writing, to his Grace, who, as the gentleman informed me, intended 
to lay it before the Privy Council. 

" Though this visit cost me a severe cold, I, notwithstanding, set myself 
down to work, and in about four days sent the Duke as regular a plan 
as I could form, with all the reasons and arguments I could bring to 
support it, drawn out on several sheets of paper ; and soon received a 
message from the Duke, by Mr. Carrington, acquainting me that my 
plan was highly approved of, and that all the terms of it would be 
complied with. 

" The principal and most material of these terms was the immediately 



HOGARTH, SMOLLETT, AND FIELDING. 267 

In the quarrel mentioned before, whicli happened on 
Fieldmg's last voyage to Lisbon, and when the stout 
captain of the ship fell down on his knees and asked 
the sick man's pardon — " I did not suffer," Fielding 
says, in his hearty, manly way, his eyes hghting 
up as it were with their old fire — " I did not suffer a 
brave man and an old man to remain a moment in 
that j)osture, but immediately forgave him." Indeed, 
I think, with his noble spirit and unconquerable 
generosity. Fielding reminds one of those brave men 



depositing 600Z. in my hands; at which small charge I undertook to 
demolish the then reigning gangs, and to put the civil policy into such 
order, that no such gangs should ever be able for the futui-e, to form 
themselves into bodies, or at least to remain any time formidable to 
the public. 

"I had delayed my Bath journey for some time, contrary to the 
repeated advice of my physical acquaintances, and the ardent desire of 
my warmest fxnends, though my distemper was now turned to a deep 
jaundice; in which case the Bath-waters are generally reputed to be 
almost infallible. But I had the most eager desire to demolish this 
gang of villains and cut-throats. . . . 

"After some weeks the money was paid at the Treasury, and within 
a few days, after 2001. of it had come to my hands, the whole gang of 
cut-throats was entirely dispersed." , . . 

Further on, he says, — 

" I will confess that my private affairs at the beginning of the winter 
had but a gloomy aspect ; for I had not plundered the public or the 
poor of those sums, which men who are always ready to plunder both 
as much as they can, have been pleased to suspect me of taking ; on the 
contrary, by composing, instead of inflaming, the quarrels of porters and 
beggars (which I blush when I say hath not been universally practised), 
and by refusing to take a shilling from a man who most undoubtedly 
would not have had another left, I had reduced an income of about 
600?, a year of the dirtiest money upon earth, to little more than 300Z., 
a considerable portion of which remained with my clerk." 



268 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

of whom one reads in stories 'of English shipwrecks 
and disasters — of the officer on the African shore, 
when disease has destroyed the crew, and he himself 
is seized by fever, who throws the lead with a death- 
stricken hand, takes the soundings, carries the ship 
out of the river or off the dangerous coast, and dies 
in the manly endeavour — of the wounded captain, 
when the vessel founders, who never loses his heart, 
who eyes the danger steadily, and has a cheery word 
for all, until the inevitable fate overwhelms him, 
and the gallant ship goes down. Such a brave and 
gentle heart, such an intrepid and courageous spirit, 
I love to recognise in the manly, the English Harry 
Fielding. 



LECTURE THE SIXTH. 

STERNE AND GOLDSMITH. 

Roger Sterne, Sterne's father, was the second son 
of a numerous race, descendants of Richard Sterne, 
Archbishop of York, in the reign of James II. ; and 
children of Simon Sterne and Mary Jaques, his wife, 
heiress of Elvington, near York.* Roger was a lieut- 
enant in Handiside's regiments, and engaged in Flanders, 
in Queen Anne's wars. He married the daughter of a 
noted suttler, "N.B., he was in debt to him," his son 
writes, pursuing the paternal biography, and marched 
through the world with this companion, following the 
regiment and bringing many children to poor Roger 
Sterne. The captain was an irascible but kind and simple 
Httle man, Sterne says, and informs us that his sire was 
run tlirough the body at Gibraltar, by a brother officer, 
in a duel, which arose out of a dispute about a goose. 
Roger never entirely recovered from the effects of this 



^ He came of a Suffolk family — one of whom settled in Nottingham- 
shii'e. The famous *' starling " was actually the family ci'est. 



270 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

rencontre, but died presently at Jamaica, whither he 
had followed the drum. 

Lawrence, his second child, was borne at Clonmel, 
in Ireland, in 1713, and travelled for the first ten years 
of his life, on his father's march, from barrack to 
transport, from Ireland to England.' 

One relative of his mother's took her and her family 
under shelter for ten months at Mullingar : another 
collateral descendant of the Archbishop's housed them 
for a year at his castle near Carrickfergus. Larry Sterne 
was put to school at Halifax in England, finally was 
adopted by his kinsman of Elvington, and parted com- 
pany with his father, the Captain, who marched on his 
path of life till he met the fatal goose, which closed his 
career. The most picturesque and delightful parts of 
Lawrence Sterne's writings, we owe to his recollections 
of the military life. Trim's montero cap, and Le Fevre's 
sword, and dear Uncle Toby's roquelaure, are doubtless 
remmiscences of the boy, who had lived with the 
followers of William and Marlborough, and had beat 
time with his little feet to the fifes of Ramillies in 
Dublin barrack-yard, or played with the torn flags and 
halberds of Malplaquet on the parade ground at 
Clonmel. 

^ " It was in this parish (of Animo, in Wicklow), during our stay, 
that I had that wonderful escape in falling through a mill-race, whilst 
the mill was going, and of being taken up unhurt ; the story is incre- 
dible, but known for truth in all that part of Ireland, Avhere hundreds of 
the common people flocked to see me." — Sterne. 



STERNE AND GOLDSMITH. 271 

Lawrence remained at Halifax school till he was 
eighteen years old. His wit and cleverness appear to 
have acquired the respect of his master here : for when 
the usher whipped Lawrence for writing his name 
on the newl}' white-washed school-room ceiling, the 
pedagogue in chief rebuked the under-strapper, and 
said that the name should never be effaced, for Sterne 
was a boy of genius, and would come to preferment. 

His cousin, the Squii'e of Elvington, sent Sterne to 
Jesus College, Cambridge, where he remained five 
years, and taking orders, got, through his uncle's 
interest, the living of Sutton and the Prebendary of York. 
Through his wife's connexions, he got the hving of 
Stillington. He married her in 1741 ; having ardentlj^ 
courted the young lady for some years previously. It 
was not until the young lady fancied herself dying, 
that she made Sterne acquainted with the extent of her 
liking for him. One evening when he was sitting with 
her, with an almost broken heart to see her so ill (the 
Bev. Mr. Sterne's heart was a good deal broken in the 
course of his life,) she said — " My dear Laurey, I never 
can be yours, for I verily believe I have not long to 
live, but I have left you eyerj shilling of my fortune," 
a generosity which overpowered Sterne : she recovered : 
and so they were married, and grew heartily tired of 
each other before many years were over. '' Nescio quid 
est materia cum me," Sterne writes to one of his 
friends (in dog Latin, and very sad-dog Latin too) " sed 



272 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 



sum fatigatus et segrotus de me a uxore plus quam 
unquam," which means, I am sorry to say, "I don't 
know what is the matter with me : but I am more tired 
and sick of my wife than ever." ' 

This to be sure was five-and-twenty years after 
Laurey had been overcome by her generosity and she 
by Laurey's love. Then he wrote to her of the delights 
of marriage, saying — " We will be as merry and as 
innocent as our first parents in Paradise : before the 
arch fiend entered that indescribable scene. The 
kindest affections will have room to expand in our 
retirement — let the human tempest and hurricane rage 
at a distance, the desolation is beyond the horizon of 
peace. My L. has seen a polyanthus blow in December ? 
— Some friendly wall has sheltered it from the biting 
wind — no planetary influence shall reach us, but that 
wliich presides and cherishes the sweetest flowers. 
The gloomy family of care and distrust shall be banished 
from our dwelling, guarded by thy Idnd and tutelar 
deity, — we will sing our choral songs of gratitude and 
rejoice to the end of our pilgrimage. Adieu, my L. 
Eeturn to one who languishes for thy society ! — As I 
take up my pen, my poor pulse quickens, my pale face 



1 " My wife returns to Toulouse, and proposes to pass the summer at 
Bigna^res — I, on the contrary, go and visit my wife, the church, in Yoi'k- 
shire. We all live the longer, at least the happier, for having things 
our own way ; this is my conjugal maxim. I own 'tis not the best of 
maxims, but I maintain 'tis not the worst."— Stehne's Letters, 20th 
January, 1764. 



STERNE AXD GOLDSMITH. 273 

glows, and tears are triclding down on my paper as I 
trace the word L." 

And it is about this woman, with whom he finds no 
fault, but that she bores him, that our philanthropist 
writes, " Sum fatigatus et £egrotus" — Sum mortaliter 
in amore with somebodj^ else ! That fine flower 
of love, that polyanthus over which Sterne snivelled 
so many tears, could not last for a quarter of a 
centur}^ ! 

Or rather it could not be expected that a gentleman 
with such a fountain at command, should keep it to 
arroser one homety old lady, when a score of j^ounger 
and prettier people might be refreshed from the same 
gushing source.' It was in December, 1767, that the 



1 In a collection of "Seven Letters by Sterne and his friends," 
(printed for private circulation), in 1844, is a letter of M. ToUot, who 
was in France with Sterne and his family in 1764. Here is a 
paragraph : — 

" Nous ai-riv4mes le lendemain k Montpellier, ou nous trouvdmes 
notre ami Mr. Sterne, sa femme, sa fille, Mr. Huet et quelques autres 
Anglaises ; j'eus, je vous I'avoue, beaucoup de plaisir en revoyant le bon 
et agreable Tristram II avait ete assez longtemps a Tou- 
louse, oil il se serait amuse sans sa femme, qui le poursuivit partout, 
et qui voulait etre de tout. Ces dispositions dans cette bonne dame, 
lui ont fait passer d'assez mauvais momens ; il supporte tons ces 
d^sagremens avec une patience d'ange." 

About four months after this very characteristic letter, Sterne wrote 
to the same gentleman to whom Tollot had written ; and from his letter 
we may extract a companion paragraph : — 

" All which being premised, I have been for eight weeks 

smitten with the tenderest passion that ever tender wight underwent. 
I wish, dear cousin, thou couldst conceive (perhaps thou canst with- 
out my wishing it) how deliciously I cantei"'d away with it the first 

T 



274 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

Rev. Lawrence Sterne, the famous Sliandean, the 
charming Yorick, the delight of the fashionable world, 
the delicious divine, for whose sermons the whole 
polite world was subscribing,' the occupier of Rabelais's 

month, two np, two down, always upon my hanches along the streets 
from my hotel to hers, at first once — then twice, then three times a 
day, till at length I was within an ace of setting up my hobby-horse 
in her stable for good and all. I might as well, considering how the 
enemies of the Lord have blasphemed thereupon. The last three weeks 
we were every hour upon the doleful ditty of parting — and thou 
may est conceive, dear cousin, how it altered my gait and air — for I 
went and came like any louden'd carl, and did nothing but jauer des 
sentiynens Avith her from sun-rising even to the setting of the same ; 
and now she is gone to the south of France ; and to finish the comedie, 
I fell ill, and broke a vessel in my lungs, and half bled to death. 
Voilk mon histoire ! " 

Whether husband or wife had most of the "patience cVange " may be 
uncertain ; but there can be no doubt which needed it most ! 

1 K I Tristram Shandy ' is still a greater object of admiration, the man 
as well as the book ; one is invited to dinner, when he dines, a fort- 
night before. As to the volumes yet published, there is much good fun 
in them, and humour sometimes hit and sometimes missed. Have you 
read his 'Sermons,' with his own comick figure, from a painting by 
Reynolds, at the head of them ? They are in the style I think most 
proper for the pulpit, and show a strong imagination and a sensible 
heart ; but you see him often tottering on the verge of laughter, and 
ready to throw his periwig in the face of the audience." — Gray's 
Letters, June 22nd, 1760. 

" It having been observed that there was little hospitality in Lon - 
don — Johnson : * Nay, Sir, any man who has a name, or who has the 
power of pleasing, will be very generally invited in London. The man, 
Sterne, I have been told, has had engagements for three months.' 
Goldsmith : ' And a very dull fellow.' Johnson : * Why, no, Sir.' " — 
Boswell's Life of Johnson. 

" Her [Miss Monckton's] vivacity enchanted the sage, and they used 
to talk together with all imaginable ease. A singular instance happened 
one evening, when she insisted that some of Sterne's writings were very 
pathetic. Johnson bluntly denied it. 'lam sure/ said she, 'they 



STERNE AND GOLDSMITH. 275 



easy cliair, only fresh stuffed and more elegant than 
when in possession of the cynical old curate of Meudon,* 

have affected me.' ' Why/ said Johnson, smiling, and rolling himself 
about — 'that is, because, dearest, you're a dunce.' When she some time 
afterwards mentioned this to him, he said with equal truth and polite- 
ness, 'Madam, if I had thought so, I certainly should not have said it.' " 
— Ibid. 

^ A passage or two from Sterne's " Sermons " may not be without 
interest here. Is not the following, levelled against the cruelties of 
the Church of Rome, stamped with the autograph of the author of the 
" Sentimental Journey ? " — 

" To be convinced of this, go with me for a moment into the prisons 
of the Inquisition — behold religion with mercy and justice chained down 
tmder her feet, — there, sitting ghastly upon a black tribunal, propped 
up with racks, and instruments of torment. — Hark ! — what a piteous 
groan ! — See the melancholy wretch who uttered it, just brought forth 
to undergo the anguish of a mock-trial, and endure the utmost pain that 
a studied system of religious cruelty has been able to invent. Behold 
this helpless victim delivered vip to his tormentors. His hody so loasted 
with sorrow and long confinement, you'll see every nerve and muscle as it 
suffers. — Observe the last movement of that horrid engine, — What con- 
vulsions it has thrown him into ! Consider the nature of the posture 
in which he now lies stretched. — What exquisite torture he endures by 
it. — 'Tis all nature can bear. — Good God ! see how it keeps his weary 
soul hanging upon his trembling lips, willing to take its leave, but not 
suffered to depart. Behold the unhappy wretch led back to his cell, 
— dragg'd out of it again to meet the flames — and the insults in his last 
agonies, which this principle — this principle, that there can be religion 
without morality — has prepared for him." — Sermon 27th. 

The nest extract is preached on a text to be found in Judges xix. ver. 
1, 2, 3, concei'ning a " certain Levite : " — 

'' Such a one the Levite wanted to share his solitude and fill up that 
uncomfortable blank in the heart in such a situation; for, notwith- 
standing all we meet with in books, in many of which, no doubt, there 
are a good many handsome things said upon the secrets of retirement, 
&c. . . . yet still, 'it is not good for man to he alone : ' nor can all 
which the cold-hearted pedant stuns our ears with upon the subject, ever 
give one answer of satisfaction to the mind ; in the midst of the loudest 
vauntings of philosophy, nature will have her yearnings for society and 

T 2 



276 ExVOLISH HUMOUEISTS. 

— the more than rival of the Dean of St. Patrick's, 
wrote the above quoted respectable letter to his friend 
in London ; and it was in April of the same year, that 
he was pouring out his fond heart to Mrs. Ehzabeth 
Draper, wdfe of " Daniel Draper, Esq., Counsellor of 
Bombay, and, in 1775, chief of the factory of Surat — 
a gentleman very much respected in that quarter of the 
globe." 

" I got thy letter last night, Eliza," Sterne writes, 
" on my return from Lord Bathurst's, where I dined — 
(the letter has this merit in it that it contains a pleasant 
reminiscence of better men than Sterne, and introduces 
us to a portrait of a kind old gentleman) — I got thy 
letter last night, Eliza, on my return from Lord 
Bathurst's; and w^here I was heard — as I talked of thee 
an hour without intermission — with so much pleasui'e 



friendship ; — a good heart wants some object to be kind to — and the 
best parts of our blood, and the purest of our spirits, suffer most under 
the destitution. 

"Let the torpid monk seek Heaven comfortless and alone. God 
speed him ! For my own part, I fear I should never so find the way ; 
let me he wise and religious, hiht let me he Man ; wherever thy Providence 
places me, or whatever be the road I take to Thee, give me some com- 
panion in my journey, be it only to remark to, 'How our shadows 
lengthen as our sun goes down ; ' — to whom I may say, ' How fresh is 
the face of Nature ! how sweet the :Sowers of the field ! how delicious 
are these fruits ! '" — Sermon \^th. 

The first of these passages gives us another drawing of the 
famous " Captive." The second shows that the same reflection was 
suggested to the Eev. Lawrence, by a text in Judges, as by the fille-de- 
chavihre. 

Sterne's Sermons were published as those of " Mr. Yorick." 



STERNE A^T> GOLDSMITH. 277 

and attention, that the good old Lord toasted your 
health three different times ; and now he is in his 85th 
year, says he hopes to live long enough to be introduced 
as a friend to my fair Indian disciple, and to see her 
eclipse all other Nabobesses as much in wealth, as she 
does already in exterior, and what is far better (for 
Sterne is nothing without his morahty), and what is far 
better, m interior merit. This nobleman is an old 
friend of mine. You know he was always the pro- 
tector of men of wit and genius, and has had those of 
the last century, Addison, Steele, Pope, Swift, Prior, 
&c., always at his table. The manner in which his 
notice began of me was as singular as it was polite. 
He came up to me one day as I was at the Princess of 
Wales's court, and said, ' I want to know you, Mr. 
Sterne, but it is fit you also should know who it is that 
wishes this pleasure. You have heard of an old Lord 
Bathurst, of whom your Popes and Swifts have sung 
and spoken so much ? I have lived my Ufe with geniuses 
of that cast ; but have survived them ; and, despairing 
ever to find their equals, it is some years since I have 
shut up my books and closed my accounts ; but you 
have kindled a desire in me of opening them once 
more before I die so : which I now do : so go 
home and dine with me.' This nobleman, I say, is 
a prodigy, for he has all the wit and promptness 
of a man of thirty ; a disposition to be pleased, and 
a power to please others, beyond whatever I knew: 



278 ENGLISH HUMOUEISTS. 

added to which a man of learmng, courtes}^ and 
feeling." 

" He heard me talk of thee, Eliza, with uncommon 
satisfaction — for there was only a third person, and of 
sensibility, with us : and a most sentimental afternoon 
till nine o'clock have we passed ! ^ But thou, Eliza ! wert 
the star that conducted and enlivened the discourse ! 
And when I talked not of thee, still didst thou fill my 
mind, and warm every thought I uttered, for I am not 
ashamed to acknowledge I greatly miss thee. Best of 
all good girls ! — the sufferings I have sustained all 
night in consequence of thine, Eliza, are beyond the 
power of words. . . . And so thou hast fixed thy 
Bramin's portrait over thy writing desk, and will consult 
it in all doubts and difficulties ? — Grateful and good 
girl ! Yorick smiles contentedly over all thou dost : 



^ " I am glad that you are in love — 'twill cure you at least of the 
spleen, which has a bad effect on both man and woman — I myself must 
even have some Dulcinea in my head, it harmonises the soul ; and in 
these cases I first endeavour to make the lady believe so, or rather, I 
begin first to make myself believe that I am in love — but I carry on my 
affairs quite in the French way, sentimentally — I'amour (say they) u'est 
rien sans sentiment. Now, notwithstanding they make such a pother 
about the xvord, they have no precise idea annexed to it. And so much 
for that same subject called love." — Sterne's Letters, May 23, 1765. 

" P.S. — My ' Sentimental Journey ' will please Mrs. J and my 

Lydia [his daughter, afterwards Mrs. Medalle] — I can answer for those 
two. It is a subject which works well, and suits the frame of mind I 
have been in for some time past. I told you my design in it was to 
teach us to love the world and our fellow-creatures better than we do — 
so it runs most upon those gentler passions and affections which aid so 
much to it"— Letters [1767]. 



STERNE AND GOLDSMITH. 279 

liis picture does not do justice to his own complacency. 
I am glad your shipmates are friendly beings (Eliza 
was at Deal going back to the Counsellor at Bombay, 
and indeed it was high time she should be off.) You 
could least dispense with what is contrary to your own 
nature, which is soft and gentle, Eliza; it would civilise 
savages — though pity were it thou shouldest be tainted 
with the office. Write to me, my child, thy delicious 
letters. Let them speak the easy carelessness of a 
heart that opens itself anyhow, every how, such Eliza 
I write to thee! (the artless rogue, of course he 
did !) ' And so I should ever love thee, most art- 
lessly, most affectionately if Providence permitted 
thy residence in the same section of the globe : for I 
am all that honour and affection can make me ' Thy 
Bramin.' " 

The Bramin continues addressing Mrs. Draper 
until the departure of the Earl of Chatham, India- 
man, from Deal, on the 2nd of April, 1767. He is 
amiably anxious about the fresh paint for Eliza's 
cabin; he is uncommonly solicitous about her com- 
panions on board : " I fear the best of yom' shipmates 
are only genteel by comparison with the contrasted 
crew with which thou beholdest them. So was — 
you know who — from the same fallacy which was 
put upon your judgment when — but I will not 
mortify you !" 

" You know who " was, of course, Daniel Draper. 



280 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

Esq., of Bombay — a gentleman very mucli respected in 
that quarter of the globe, and about whose probable 
health our vrorthy Bramin writes with delightful candour. 

" I honour you, Eliza, for keeping secret some 
things which, if explained, had been a panegyric on 
yourself. There is a dignity in venerable affliction 
which will not allow it to appeal to the world for 
pity or redress. Well have you supported that 
character, my amiable, my philosophic friend ! And 
indeed, I begin to think you have as many virtues 
as my Uncle Toby's widow. Talking of widows — 
pray, Eliza, if ever you are such, do not think of 
giving yourself to some wealthy Nabob, because I 
design to marry you myself. My wife cannot live 
long, and I know not the woman I should like so 
well for her substitute as yourself. 'Tis true I am 
ninety-five in constitution, and you but twenty-five ; 
but what I want in youth, I will make up in wit 
and good-humour. Not Swift so loved his Stella, 
Scarron his Maintenon, or Waller his Saccharissa. 
Tell me, in answer to this, that you approve and 
honour the proposal." 

Approve and honour the proposal ! The coward 
was writing gay letters to his friends this while, 
with sneering allusions to this poor foohsh Bramine. 
Her ship was not out of the Downs, and the charming 
Sterne was at the Mount Cofi'eehouse, with a 
sheet of gilt-edged paper before him, offering that 



STERNE AND GOLDSMITH. 281 

precious treasure liis heart to Lady P , asking 

whether it gave her pleasure to see him unhappy ? 
whether it ackled to her triumph that her eyes and 
lips had turned a man into a fool ? — quoting the 
Lord's Prayer, with a horrible baseness of blasphemy, 
as a proof that he had desired not to be led into 
temptation, and swearing himself the most tender and 
sincere fool in the world. It was from his home at 
Coxwould that he wrote the Latin letter, which, I 
suppose, he was ashamed to put into English. I find 
in my copy of the Letters, that there is a note of 
I can't call it admiration, at letter 112, which seems 
to announce that there was a No. 3 to whom the 
wretched worn-out old scamp was paying his addresses ;^ 



1 TO MRS, H . 

"Coxwould, Nov. 15, 1767. 
" Now be a good dear woman, my H , and execute tliose com- 
missions well, and when I see you I will give you a kiss — there's for 
you ! But I have something else for you which I am fabricating at a 
great rate, and that is my ' Sentimental Journey,' which shall make you 
cry as much as it has affected me, or I will give up the business of 
sentimental writing. ... I am yours, &c. &c., 

"T. Shandy." 

TO THE EARL OF . 



" Coxioould, Nov. 28, 1767. 
" Mt Lord, — 'Tis with the greatest pleasure I take my pen to thank 
your Lordship for your letter of inquiry about Yorick — he was worn 
out, both his spirits and body, with the ' Sentimental Journey ; ' 'tis 
true, then, an author must feel himself, or his reader will not — ^but I 
have torn my whole frame into pieces by my feelings — I believe the 
brain stands as much in need of recruiting as the body ; therefore I 
shall set out for town the twentieth of next month, after having 
recruited myself a week at York. I might indeed solace myself with 



282 E^^GLISH HUMOURISTS. 

and the year after, having come back to his lodgings 
in Bond-street, with his "Sentimental Journej^" to 
launch upon the town, eager as ever for praise and 
pleasure ; as vain, as wicked, as witty, as false as 
he had ever been, death at length seized the feeble 
wretch, and, on the 18th of March, 1768, that "bale 
of cadaverous goods," as he calls his body, was con- 
signed to Pluto/ In his last letter there is one sign 
of grace — the real affection with which he entreats a 
friend to be a guardian to his daughter Lydia.' All 
his letters to her are artless, kind, affectionate, and 



my wife (who is come from France), but in fact, I have long been a 
sentimental being, whatever your Lordship may think to the contrary." 

^ " It is known that Sterne died in hired lodgings, and I have been 
told that his attendants robbed him even of his gold sleeve-buttons 
while he was expiring." — Dr. Ferriar. 

He died at No. 41 (now a cheesemonger's), on the west side of Old 
Bond Street. — Handhooh of London. 

2 '^in February, 1768, Lawrence Sterne, his frame exhausted by 
long debilitating illness, expired at his lodgings in Bond-street, Lon- 
don. There was something in the manner of his death singularly 
resembling the particulars detailed by Mrs QuicJdy, as attending that of 
Falstaff, the compeer of Yorick for infinite jest, however unlike in 
other particulars. As he lay on his bed totally exhausted, he com- 
plained that his feet were cold, and requested the female attendant to 
chafe them. She did so, and it seemed to relieve him. He com- 
plained that the cold came up higher; and whilst the assistant was in 
the act of chafing his ancles and legs, he expired without a groan. It 
was also remarkable that his death took place much in the manner 
which he himself had wished ; and that the last offices were rendered 
him, not in his own house, or by the hand of kindred affection, but in 
an inn, and by strangers. 

" We are well acquainted with Sterne's features and personal appear- 
ance, to which he himself frequently alludes. He was tall and thin, 
with a hectic and consumptive appearance." — Sir Walter Scott. 



STEENE AND GOLDSMITH. 283 

not sentimental ; as a hundred pages in his ^\Titings 
are beautiful, and full, not of surprising humour 
merely, but of genuine love and kindness. A perilous 
trade, indeed, is that of a man who has to bring his 
tears and laughter, his recollections, his personal 
griefs and joys, his private thoughts and feelings to 
market, to write them on paper, and sell them 
for money. Does he exaggerate his grief, so as to 
get his reader's pity for a false sensibility — feign 
indignation, so as to establish a character for 
virtue? elaborate repartees, so that he may pass 
for a wit ? steal from other authors, and put down 
the theft to the credit side of his own reputation 
for ingenuity and learning ? feign originality ? affect 
benevolence or misanthropy ? appeal to the gallery 
gods with claptraps and vulgar baits to catch 
applause ? 

How much of the point and emphasis is necessary 
for the fair business of the stage, and how much of 
the rant and rouge is put on for the vanity of the 
actor. His audience trusts him: can he trust him- 
self? How much was deliberate calculation and 
imposture — how much was false sensibility — and how 
much true feeling ? Where did the lie begin, and 
did he know where ? and where did the truth end 
in the art and scheme of this man of genius, this 
actor, this quack ? Some time since I was in the 
company of a French actor, who began after dinner, 



284 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

and at liis own request, to sing French songs of the 
sort called des chansons grivoises, and which he per- 
formed admirably, and to the dissatisfaction of most 
persons present. Having finished these, he com- 
menced a sentimental ballad — it was so charmingly 
sung that it touched all persons present, and especially 
the singer himself, whose voice trembled, whose eyes 
filled witli emotion, and who was snivelling and 
weeping quite genuine tears by the time his own 
ditty was over. I suppose Sterne had this artistical 
sensibility ; he used to blubber perpetually in his 
study, and finding his tears mfectious, and that they 
brought him a great popularity, he exercised the 
lucrative gift of weeping, he utilised it, and cried on 
every occasion. I own that I don't value or respect 
much the cheap dribble of those fountains. He 
fatigues me with his perpetual disquiet and his 
uneasy appeals to my risible or sentimental faculties. 
He is always looking in my face, watching his effect, 
uncertain whether I think him an impostor or not ; 
posture -making, coaxing*, and imploring me. " See 
what sensibihty I have — own now that I'm very 
clever — do cry now, you can't resist this." The 
humour of Swift and Eabelais, whom he pretended 
to succeed, poured from them as naturally as song 
does from a bird ; they lose no manly dignity with 
it, but laugh their hearty great laugh out of their 
broad chests as nature bade them. But this man — 



STERNE AND GOLDSMITH. 285 

wlio can make you laugh, who can make jou cry, 
too — never lets his reader alone, or will permit his 
audience repose : when you are quiet, he fancies he 
must rouse you, and turns over head and heels, or 
sidles up and whispers a nasty story. The man is 
a great jester, not a great humourist. He goes to 
work systematically and of cold Wood; paints his 
face, puts on his ruff and motley clothes, and lays 
down his carpet and tumbles on it. 

For instance, take the " Sentimental Journey," and 
see in the writer the deliberate propensity to make 
pomts and seek applause. He gets to Dessein's 
Hotel, he wants a carriage to travel to Paris, he goes 
to the inn-yard and begins what the actors call 
"business" at once. There is that little carriage the 
desohUgeant. " Four months had elapsed since it 
had finished its career of Europe in the corner of 
Monsieur Dessein's courtyard, and having sallied out 
thence but a vamped-up business at first, though it 
had been twice taken to pieces on Mount Sennis, 
it had not profited much by its adventures, but by 
none so little as the standing so many months unpitied 
in the corner of Monsieur Dessein's coach-j^ard. 
Much, indeed, was not to be said for it — but some- 
thing might — and when a few words will rescue 
misery out of her distress, I hate the man who can 
be a churl of them." 

Le tour est fait ! Paillasse has tumbled ! Paillasse 



286 ENGLISH HUMOUEISTS. 

lias jumped over tlie desohligeant, cleared it, hood 
and all, and bows to tlie noble company. Does 
anybody believe that this is a real Sentiment ? that 
this luxury of generosity, this gallant rescue of Misery 
— out of an old cab, is genuine feeling? It is as 
genuine as the virtuous oratory of Joseph Surface 
when he begins, " The man who," &c. &c., and 
wishes to pass off for a saint with his credulous, 
good-humoured dupes. 

Our friend purchases the carriage — after turning 
that notorious old monk to good account, and effecting 
(like a soft and good-natured Paillasse as he was, 
and very free with his money when he had it) an 
exchange of snuff-boxes with the old Franciscan, jogs 
out of Calais ; sets down in immense figures on the 
credit side of his account the sous he gives away 
to the Montreuil beggars ; and, at Nampont, gets 
out of the chaise and whimpers over that famous 
dead donkey, for which any sentimentalist may cry 
who will. It is agreeably and skilfully done — that 
dead jackass ; lilve M. de Soubise's cook, on the 
campaign, Sterne dresses it, and serves it up quite 
tender and with a very piquante sauce. But tears, 
and fine feelings, and a white pocket-handkerchief, 
and a funeral sermon, and horses and feathers, and 
a procession of mutes, and a hearse with a dead 
donkey inside ! Psha ! Mountebank ! I'll not give 
thee one penny more for that trick, donkey and all ! 



STERNE AND GOLDSMITH. 287 

This donkey had appeared once before with signal 
effect. In 1765, three years before the j)ublication of 
the " Sentimental Journey," the seventh and eighth 
volumes of " Tristram Shandy" were given to the 
world, and the famous Lyons donkey makes his 
entry in those volumes (pp. 315, 316) : — 

" ' Twas by a poor ass, with a couple of large 
panniers at his back, who had just turned in to 
collect eleemos}Tiary turnip-tops and cabbage-leaves ; 
and stood dubious, with his two fore -feet at the 
inside of the threshold, and with his two hinder 
feet towards the street, as not knowing very well 
whether he was to go in or no. 

" Now 'tis an animal (be in what hurry I may) I 
cannot bear to strike ; there is a patient endurance 
of suffering wrote so unaffectedly in his looks and 
carriage which pleads so mightily for him, that it 
always disarms me, and to that degree that I do not 
Kke to speak unkindly to him : on the contrary, 
meet him where I will, whether in town or country, 
in cart or mider panniers, whether in liberty or 
bondage, I have ever something civil to say to him on 
my part ; and, as one word begets another (if he has 
as little to do as I), I generally fall into conversation 
with him; and surely never is my imagination so 
busy as in framing responses from the etcliings of 
his countenance ; and where those carry me not deep 
enough, in flying from my own heart into his, and 



288 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

seeing what is natural for an ass to think — as well 
as a man, upon the occasion. In truth, it is the 
only creature of all the classes of beings below me 

with whom I can do tliis With an ass I can 

commune for ever. 

" ' Come, Honesty,' said I, seeing it was imprac- 
ticable to pass betwixt him and the gate, ' art thou 
for coming in or going out ? ' 

" The ass twisted his head round to look up the 
street. 

" ' Well ! ' replied I, ' we'll wait a minute for thy 
driver.' 

" He turned his head thoughtful about, and 
looked wistfully the opposite way. 

" ' I understand thee perfectly," answered I : ' if 
thou takest a wrong step in this affair, he will cudgel 
thee to death. Well ! a minute is but a minute ; 
and if it saves a fellow-creature a drubbing, it shall 
not be set down as ill spent.' 

" He was eatmg the stem of an artichoke as this 
discourse went on, and, in the little peevish con- 
tentions between hunger and unsavouriness, had 
dropped it out of his mouth half-a-dozen times, and 
had picked it up again. ' God help thee. Jack ! ' said I, 
* thou hast a bitter breakfast on't — and many a bitter 
day's labour, and many a bitter blow, I fear, for its 
wages ! 'Tis all, all bitterness to thee — whatever life 
is to others ! And now thy mouth, if one knew the 



STERNE AND GOLDSMITH. 289 

truth of it, is as bitter, I dare say, as soot (for 
he had cast aside the stem), and thou hast not a 
friend perhaps in all this world that will give thee 
a macaroon.' In saying this, I pulled out a paper 
of 'em, which I had just bought, and gave him one ; — 
and, at this moment that I am telling it, my heart 
smites me that there was more of pleasantry in the 
conceit of seemg Jioiv an ass would eat a macaroon 
than of benevolence in giving him one, which pre- 
sided in the act. 

" When the ass had eaten his macaroon, I pressed 
him to come in. The poor beast was heavy loaded — 
his legs seemed to tremble under him — he hung 
rather backwards, and, as I pulled at his halter, it 
broke in my hand. He looked up pensive in my 
face : ' Don't thrash me with it ; but if you will you 
may.' ' If I do,' said I, ' I'll be d .' " 

A critic who refuses to see in this charming 
description wit, humour, pathos, a kind nature 
speaking, and a real sentiment, must be hard indeed 
to move and to please. A page or two farther we 
come to a description not less beautiful — a landscape 
and figures, dehciously painted by one who had the 
keenest enjoyment and the most tremulous sen- 
sibility : — 

" 'Twas in the road between Nismes and Lunel, 
where is the best Muscatto wine in all France : the 
sun was set, they had done their work ; the nymphs 



290 ENGLISH HUMO HEISTS. 

had tied up their hair afresh, and the swains were 
preparing for a carousal. My mule made a dead 
point. ' ' Tis the pipe and tamhourine,' said I — I 
never will argue a point with one of your family as 
long as I live ; ' so leaping off his back, and kicking 
off one boot into this ditch and t'other into that, 
' I'll take a dance,' said I, * so stay you here.' 

" A sun-burnt daughter of labour rose up from 
the group to meet me as I advanced towards them ; 
her hair, which was of a dark chesnut approaching 
to a black, was tied up in a knot, all but a single 
tress. 

"'We want a cavalier,' said she, holding out both 
her hands, as if to offer them. * And a cavaher you 
shall have,' said I, taking hold of both of them. ' We 
could not have done without you,' said she, letting 
go one hand, with self-taught politeness, and leading 
me up with the other. 

" A lame youth, whom Apollo had recompensed 
with a pipe, and to which he had added a tambourine 
of his own accord, ran sweetly over the prelude, 
as he sat upon the bank. 'Tie me up this tress, 
instantly,' said Nannette, putting a piece of string 
into my hand. It taught me to forget I was a 
stranger. The whole knot fell down — we had been 
seven years acquainted. The youth struck the note 
upon the tambourine, his pipe followed,, and off we 
bounded. 



STERNE AND GOLDSMITH. 291 

" The sister of tlie yoiitli — who had stolen her voice 
from Heaven — sang alternately with her brother. 
'Twas a Gascoigne roundelay. * Viva la joia, fidon 
la tristessa ;' — the nymphs joined in unison, and their 
swains an octave below them. 

" Viva la joia was in Nannette's lips, viva la joia 
in her eyes. A transient spark of amity shot across 
the space betwixt us. She looked amiable. AVhy 
could I not live and end my daj^s thus ? ' Just 
Disposer of oiu' joys and sorrows ! ' cried I, ' why 
could not a man sit down in the lap of content 
here, and dance, and sing, and say his prayers, 
and go to Heaven with this nut-brown maid?' 
Capriciously did she bend her head on one side, 
and dance up insidious. 'Then 'tis time to dance 
off,' quoth I." 

And with tliis pretty dance and chorus, the volume 
artfully concludes. Even here one can't give the 
whole description. There is not a page in Sterne's 
writing but has something that were better away, 
a latent corruption — a liint, as of an impure 
presence.' 

^ " "With regard to Sterne, and the charge of licentiousness which 
presses so seriously upon his character as a writer, I would remark that 
there is a sort of knowingness, the wit of which depends, 1st, on the 
modesty it gives pain to ; or, 2ndly, on the innocence and innocent 
ignorance over which it triiimphs; or, 3rdly, on a certain oscillation 
in the individual's own mind between the remaining good and the 
encroaching evil of his nature — a sort of dallying with the devil — a 
fluxionary art of combining courage and cowardice, as when a man 

U 2 



292 e:n^glish humourists. 

Some of that dreary double entendre may be 
attributed to freer times and manners than ours, 
but not all. The foul Satyr's eyes leer out of the 
leaves constantly : the last words the famous author 
wrote were bad and wicked — the last lines the poor 
stricken wretch penned were for pity and pardon. 
I think of these past writers and of one who lives 
amongst us now, and am grateful for the innocent 
laughter and the sweet and unsullied page which 
the author of " Da^dd Copperfield " gives to my 
children. 

snuffs a candle with his fingers for the first time, or better still, per- 
haps, like that trembling daring with which a child touches a hot tea- 
urn, because it has been forbidden ; so that the mind has its own white 
and black angel ; the same or similar amusement as may be supposed 
to take place between an old debauchee and a prude, — the feeling 
resentment, on the one hand, from a prudential anxiety to preserve 
appearances and have a character ; and, on the other, an inward sym- 
pathy with the enemy. We have only to suppose society innocent, and 
then nine-tenths of this sort of wit would be like a stone that falls in 
snow, making no sound, because exciting no resistance ; the remainder 
rests on its being an offence against the good manners of human nature 
itself. 

*' This source, unworthy as it is, may doubtless be combined with 
wit, drollery, fancy, and even humour ; and we have only to regret the 
misalliance ; but that the latter are quite distinct from the former, 
may be made evident by abstracting in our imagination the morality 
of the characters of Mr. Shandy, my Uncle Toby, and Trim, which are 
all antagonists to this spurious sort of wit, from the rest of * Tristram 
Shandy,' and by supposing, instead of them, the presence of two or three 
callous debauchees. The result will be pure disgust. Sterne cannot 
be too severely censured for thus using the best dispositions of our 
nature as the panders and condiments for the basest." — Coleridge. 
Literary Bemains, vol. i. p. 141, 142. 



STERNE AND GOLDSMITH. 293 



" Jet^ sur cette boule, 
Laid, clietif et souffrant; 
Etouffd dans la foule, 
Faute d'etre assez grand ; 

" Une plainte touchante 
De ma bouche sortit ; 
Le bon Dieu me dit : Chante, 
Chante, pauvre petit ! 

" Chanter, ou je m'abuse, 
Est ma t^che ici bas. 
Tons ceux qu'ainsij 'amuse, 
Ne m'aimeront ils pas?" 

In those charming lines of Beranger, one may fancy 
described the career, the sufferings, the genius, the 
gentle nature of Goldsmith, and the esteem in which 
we hold him. Who, of the millions whom he has 
amused, doesn't love him ? To be the most beloved of 
English writers, what a title that is for a man ! ^ A 
wild youth, wayward but full of tenderness and affection, 
quits the country village where his boyhood has been 
passed in happy musing, in idle shelter, in fond longing 



1 "He was a friend to virtue, and in his most playful pages never 
forgets what is due to it. A gentleness, delicacy, and purity of feeling 
distinguishes whatever he wrote, and bears a correspondence to the 
generosity of a disposition which knew no bounds but his last 
guinea 

" The admirable ease and grace of the narrative, as well as the 
pleasing truth ^s'ith which the principal characters are designed, make 
the ' Vicar of Wakefield ' one of the most delicious morsels of fictitious 
composition on which the human mind was ever employed. 

. . . . " We read the * Vicar of Wakefield ' in youth and in age — we 
ret\irn to it again and again, and bless the memory of an author who 
contrives so well to reconcile us to human nature." — Sir Walter 
Scott. 



294 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

to see the great world out of doors, and achieve name and 
fortune — and after years of dire struggle, and neglect 
and poverty, his heart turning back as fondly to his 
native place, as it had longed eagerly for change when 
sheltered there, he writes a book and a poem, full of 
the recollections and feelings of home — he paints the 
friends and scenes of his youth, and peoples Auburn 
and Wakefield, with remembrances of Lissoy. Wander 
he must, but he carries away a home-relic with him, 
and dies with it on his breast. His nature is truant ; 
in repose it longs for change : as on the journey it looks 
back for friends and quiet. He passes to-day in 
building an air castle . for to-morrow, or in writing 
yesterday's elegy; and he would flyaway this hour; 
but that a cage of necessity keeps him. What is the 
charm of his verse, of his style, and humoui' ? His 
sweet regrets, his delicate compassion, his soft smile, 
his tremulous sympathy, the weakness which he owns ? 
Your love for him is half pity. You come hot and 
tired from the day's battle, and this sweet minstrel 
sings to you. Who could harm the kind vagrant 
harper ? Whom did he ever hurt ? He carries no 
weapon — save the harp on which he plays to you ; and 
with which he delights great and humble, young and 
old, the Captains in the tents, or the soldiers round the 
fire, or the women and children in the villages, at whose 
porches he stops and sings his simple songs of love 
and beauty. With that sweet story of the "Yicar of 



STERNE AND GOLDSMITH. 295 

Wakefield," ' lie has found entry into every castle and 
every hamlet in Eui'ope. Not one of us, however busy 



^ *'' Now Herder came," says Goethe in his Autobiography, relating 
his first acquaintance with Goldsmith's masterpiece, " and together 
with his great knowledge brought many other aids, and the later pub- 
lications besides. Among these he announced to us the * Vicar of 
"Wakefield ' as an excellent work, with the German translation of which 
he would make us acquaiated by reading it aloud to us himself. . . . 

"A Protestant coxintiy clergyman is perhaps the most beautiful 
subject for a modem idyl; he appears like Melchizedeck, as priest and 
king ui one person. To the most innocent situation which can be ima- 
gined on earth, to that of a husbandman, he is, for the most part 
united by similarity of occupation as well as by equality in family 
relationships ; he is a father, a master of a family, an agriculturist, and 
thus perfectly a member of the community. On this pure, beautiful, 
earthly foundation rests his higher calling ; to him is it given to guide 
men through life, to take care of their spiritual education, to bless 
them at all the leading epochs of then- existence, to instruct, to 
strengthen, to console them, and if consolation is not sufficient for the 
present, to call up and guarantee the hope of a happier future. ImagLue 
such a man with pure human sentiments, strong enough not to deviate 
from them under any circumstances, and by this already elevated 
above the multitude of whom one cannot expect purity and firnmess ; 
give him the learning necessary for his office, as well as a cheerful 
equable activity, which is even passionate, as it neglects no moment to 
do good — and you will have him well endowed. But at the same time 
add the necessary limitation, so that he must not only pause in a small 
circle, but may also perchance pass over to a smaller ; grant him good- 
nature, placability, resolution, and everything else praiseworthy that 
springs from a decided character, and over all this a cheerful spirit of 
compliance, and a smiling toleration of his own failings and those of 
others, — then you will have put together pretty well the image of our 
excellent Wakefield. 

"The delineation of this character on his course of life through joys 
and sorrows, the ever-increasing interest of the story, by the combina- 
tion of the entirely natural with the strange and the singular, make 
this novel one of the best which has ever been written ; besides this, it 
has the great advantage that it is quite moral, nay, in a pure sense. 
Christian — represents the reward of a good-will and perseverance in 



296 EliTGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

or hard, but once or twice in our lives, has passed an 
evening with him, and undergone the charm of his 
delightful music. 

the right, strengthens an unconditional confidence in God, and attests 
the final triumph of good over evil ; and all this without a trace of 
cant or pedantry. The author was preserved from both of these by an 
elocution of mind that shows itself throughout in' the form of irony, by 
which this little work must appear to us as wise as it is amiable. The 
author, Dr. Goldsmith, has without question, a great insight into the 
moral world, into its strength and its infirmities ; but at the same time 
he can thankfully acknowledge that he is an Englishman, and reckon 
highly the advantages which his country and his nation afford him. 
The family, with the delineation of which he occupies himself, stands 
upon one of the last steps of citizen comfort, and yet comes in contact 
with the highest ; its narrow circle, which becomes still more contracted, 
touches upon the great world through the natural and civil course of 
things ; this little skiff floats on the agitated waves of English life, and 
in weal or woe it has to expect injury or help from the vast fleet which 
sails around it. 

"I may suppose that my readers know this work, and have it in 
memory ; whoever hears it named for the first time here, as well as he 
who is induced to read it again, will thank me." — Goethe. Truth and 
Poetry ; from my own Life. (English translation, vol. i. pp. 378, 9.) 

" He seems from infancy to have been compounded of two natures, 
one bright, the other blundering ; or to have had fairy gifts laid in his 
cradle by the * good people ' who haunted this birth-place, the old 
goblin mansion, on the banks of the Inny. 

" He carries with him the wayward elfin spirit, if we may so term it, 
throughout his career. His fairy gifts are of no avail at school, 
academy, or college : they unfit him for close study and practical science, 
and render him heedless of everything that does not address itself to 
his poetical imagination, and genial and festive feelings ; they dispose 
him to break away from restraint, to stroll about hedges, green lanes, 
and haunted streams, to revel with jovial companions, or to rove the 
country like a gipsy in quest of odd adventures. . . . 

" Though his circumstances often compelled him to associate with 
the poor, they never could betray him into companionship with the 
depraved. His relish for humour, and for the study of character, as 
we have before observed, brought him often into convivial company of 



STERNE AND GOLDSMITH. 297 

Goldsmitli's father was no doubt the good Doctor 
Primrose, whom we all of us know,* Swift was yet 
alive, when the httle Oliver was horn at Pallas, or 
Pallasmore, in the county of Longford, in Ireland. In 
1730, two years after the child's bii-th, Charles Gold- 
smith removed his family to Lissoy, in the coimty 
Westmeath, that sweet " Auburn," which every person 
who hears me has seen in fancy. Here the kind parson ^ 



a vulgar kind ; but he discriminated between their vrilgarity and their 
amusing qualities, or rather wrought from the whole store familiar 
features of life which form the staple of his most popular writings." — 
Washington Irving. 

1 " The family of Goldsmith, Goldsmyth, or as it was occasionally 
written Gouldsmith, is of considerable standing in Ireland, and seems 
always to have held a respectable station in society. Its origin is Eng- 
lish, supposed to be derived from that which was long settled at 
Crayford in Kent," — Prior's Life of Goldsmith. 

Oliver's father, great-grandfather, and great-great-grandfather were 
clergymen ; and two of them married clergymen's daughtei's. 

" " At church with meek and unaffected grace. 
His looks adorn'd the venerable place ; 
Truth from his lips prevail'd with double sway. 
And fools who came to scoff remain'd to pray. 
The service past, arovmd the pious man, 
With steady zeal each honest ..rustic mn; 
E'en children follow'd with endearing wile, 
And pluck'd his gown to share the good man's smile. 
His ready smile a parent's warmth exprest, 
Their welfare pleased him, and their cares distrest ; 
To them his heart, his love, his griefs were given, 
But all his serious thoughts had rest in Heaven, 
As some tall cliff that lifts its awful form, 
Swells from the vale, and midway leaves the storm, 
Though round its breast the rolling clouds are spread. 
Eternal simshine settles on its head." — The Deserted Village, 



298 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

brought up his eight children ; and loving all the 
world, as his son says, fancied all the world loved him. 
He had a crowd of poor dependants besides those 
liungTy children. He kept an open table ; round which 
sate flatterers and poor friends, who laughed at the 
honest rector's many jokes, and ate the produce of his 
seventy acres of farm. Those who have seen an Irish 
house in the present day, can fancy that one of Lissoy. 
The old beggar still has his allotted corner by the 
kitchen turf; the maimed old soldier still gets his 
potatoes and butter-milk ; the poor cottier still asks his 
honour's charity, and prays God bless his Eeverence for 
the sixpence : the ragged pensioner still takes his place 
by right and sufferance. There's still a crowd in the 
kitchen, and a crowd round the parlour -table, profusion, 
confusion, kindness, poverty. If an Irishman comes 
to London to make his fortune, he has a half dozen of 
Irish dependants who take a per centage of liis earnings. 
The good Charles Goldsmith^ left but little provision 



1 "In May this year (1768), he lost his brother, the Rev. Henry 
Goldsmith, for whom he had been unable to obtain preferment in the 
church 

. ..." To the curacy of Kilkenny West, the moderate stipend of 
which, forty pounds a-year, is sufficiently celebrated by his brother's 
lines. It has been stated that Mr. Goldsmith added a school, which, 
after having been held at more than one place in the vicinity, Avas finally 
fixed at Lissoy. Here his talents and industry gave it celebrity, and 
under his care the sons of many of the neighbouring gentry received 
their education. A fever breaking out among the boys about 1765, 
they dispersed for a time, but re-assembling at Athlone, he continued 
his scholastic labours there until the time of his death, which happened, 



STERN'E AK^D GOLDSMITH. 299 

for liis hungry race when death summoned him : 
and, one of his daughters being engaged to a Squire 
of rather superior dignity, Charles Goklsmith im- 
poverished the rest of his family to provide the gui 
with a dowry. 

The small-pox, which scourged all Europe at that 
time, and ravaged the roses off the cheeks of half the 
world, fell foul of poor little OHver's face, when the 
child was eight years old, and left him scarred and 
disfigured for his life. An old woman in his father's 
village taught him his letters, and pronounced him a 
dunce : Paddy Byrne, the hedge-schoolmaster, took him 
in hand ; and from Paddy Byrne, he was transmitted 
to a clergyman at Elphm. When a cliild was sent to 
school in those days, the classic phrase was that he 
was placed under Mr. So and So's ferule. Poor little 
ancestors ! It is hard to think how ruthlessly you were 
birched ; and how much of needless whipping and 
tears our small forefathers had to undergo ! A relative, 
kind uncle Contarine, took the main charge of little 
Noll; who went through his school days righteously 



like that of his brother, about the forty -fifth year of his age. He was a 
man of an excellent heart and an amiable disposition." — Prior's 
Goldsmith. 

" Where'er I roam, whatever realms to see, 
My heart, untravell'd, fondly turns to thee : 
Still to my brother turns with ceaseless pain. 
And drags at each remove a lengthening chain." 

The Traveller. 



300 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

doing as little work as lie could : robbing orchards, 
playing at ball, and making his pocket money fly about 
whenever fortune sent it to him. Everybody knows 
the story of that famous " Mistake of a Night," when 
the young schoolboy, provided with a guinea and a nag, 
rode up to the " best house " in Ardagli, called for the 
landlord's company over a bottle of wine at supper, and 
for a hot cake for breakfast in the morning ; and found 
when he asked for the bill, that the best house was 
Squire Featherstone's, and not the inn for which he 
mistook it. Who does not know every story about 
Goldsmith ? That is a delightful and fantastic picture 
of the child dancing and capering about in the kitchen 
at home, when the old fiddler gibed at him for liis 
ugliness — and called him ^sop, and little Noll made 
his repartee of " Heralds proclaim aloud this saying — 
see ^jsop dancing and his monkey plapng." One 
can fancy a queer pitiful look of humour and appeal 
upon that little scarred face — the funny little dancing 
figure, the funny little brogue. In his life, and his 
writings which are the honest expression of it, he is 
constantly bewaihng that homely face and person ; anon 
he surveys them in the glass ruefully; and presently 
assumes the most comical dignity. He likes to deck 
out his little person in splendour and fine colours. He 
presented himself to be examined for ordination in a 
pair of scarlet breeches, and said honestly that he did 
not like to go into the church because he was fond of 



STERNE AND GOLDSMITH. 301 

coloured clothes. When he tried to X3ractise as a doctor, 
he got by hook or by crook a black-velvet suit, and 
looked as big and grand as he coidd, and kept his hat 
over a patch on the old coat : in better days he bloomed 
out in plum-colour, in blue silk, and in new velvet. For 
some of those splendours the heks and assignees of 
Mr. Filby, the tailor, have never been i)aid to this day ; 
perhaps the kind tailor and his creditor have met and 
settled the little account in Hades.^ 

They showed until lately a window at Trinity College, 
Dublin, on which the name of O. Goldsmith was 
engraved with a diamond. AVhose diamond was it? 
Not the young Sizar's who made but a poor figure in 
that place of learning. He was idle, penniless, and 
fond of pleasure : ^ he learned his way early to the 
pawnbroker's shop. He wrote ballads they say for the 
street singers, who paid him a crown for a poem : and 
his pleasure was to steal out at night and hear his verses 
sung. He was chastised by his tutor for giving a dance 
in his rooms, and took the box on the ear so much to 
heart, that he packed up his all, pawned his books and 



^ " "When Goldsmith died, half the unpaid bill he owed to Mr. William 
Filby (amounting in all to 791.) was for clothes supplied to this nephew 
Hodson." — Forster's Goldsmith, p. 520. 

As this nephew Hodson ended his days (see the same page) " a pros- 
perous Irish gentleman," it is not unreasonable to wish that he had 
cleared off Mr. Filby's bill. 

- " Poor fellow ! He hardly knew an ass from a mule, nor a turkey 
from a goose, but when he saw it on the table." — Cumberland's 
Memoirs. 



303 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

little property, and disappeared from college and 
family. He said lie intended to go to America, but 
when his money was spent, the young prodigal came 
home ruefully, and the good folks there killed their 
calf — it was but a lean one — and welcomed him back. 

After College, he hung about his mother's house, 
and lived for some years the life of a buckeen — 
passed a month with this relation and that, a year 
with one patron, a great deal of time at the public - 
house.* Tired of this life, it was resolved that he 
should go to London, and study at the Temple ; but 
he got no farther on the road to London and the 
woolsack than Dublin, where he gambled away the 
fifty pound given him for his outfit, and whence he 
returned to the indefatigable forgiveness of home. 
Then he determined to be a doctor, and Uncle 
Contarme helped him to a couple of years at 
Edinburgh. Then from Edinburgh he felt that he 
ought to hear the famous professors of Leyden and 
Paris, and wrote most amusing pompous letters to 
his uncle about the great Farheim, Du Petit, and 
Duhamel du Monceau, whose lectures he proposed 



^ " These youthful follies, like the fermentation of liquors, often dis- 
turb the mind only in order to its future refinement : a life spent in 
phlegmatic apathy resembles those liquors which never ferment, and 
are consequently always muddy." — Goldsmith. Memoir of Voltaire. 

" He [Johnson] said ' Goldsmith was a plant that flowered late.' 
There appeared nothing remarkable about him when he was young." 

— BOSWELL. 



STERNE AND GOLDSMITH. 303 

to follow. If Uncle Contarine believed those letters — 
if Oliver's mother believed that story which the 
youth related of his going to Cork, with the purpose 
of embarking for America, of his having paid his 
passage-money, and having sent his kit on board ; of 
the anonymous captain sailing away with Oliver's 
valuable luggage, in a nameless ship, never to return ; 
if Uncle Contarine and the mother at Ballymahon 
believed his stories, they must have been a very 
simple pair; as it was a very simple rogue indeed 
who cheated them. When the lad, after failing in 
his clerical examination, after failing in his plan for 
studying the law, took leave of these projects and of 
his parents, and set out for Edinburgh, he saw 
mother, and uncle, and lazy Ballymahon, and green 
native turf, and sparkling river for the last time. 
He was never to look on old Ireland more, and only 
in fancy revisit her. 

" But me not destined snch delights to share, 
My prime of life in wandering spent and care, 
Impelled, with step unceasing, to pursue 
Some fleeting good that mocks me with the view ; 
That like the circle bounding earth and skies 
Allures from far, yet, as I follow, flies : 
My fortune leads to traverse realms unknown, 
And find no spot of all the world my own." 

I spoke in a former lecture of that high courage 
which enabled Fielding, in spite of disease, remorse, 
and poverty, always to retain a cheerful spirit and to 
keep his manly benevolence and love of truth intact, 



304 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

as if these treasures had been confided to him for 
the pubHc benefit, and he was accountable to 
posterity for their honourable employ; and a con- 
stancy equally happy and admirable I think was 
shown by Goldsmith, whose sweet and friendly 
nature bloomed kindly always in the midst of a life's 
storm, and rain, and bitter weather.' The poor 
fellow was never so friendless but he could befriend 
some one; never so pinched and wretched but he 
could give of his crust, and speak his word of 
compassion. If he had but his flute left, he could 
give that, and make the children happy in the dreary 
London court. He could give the coals in that queer 
coal-scuttle we read of to his poor neighbour : he 
could give away his blankets in college to the poor 
widow, and warm himself as he best might in the 
feathers : he could pawn his coat to save liis land- 
lord from gaol: when he was a school-usher, he spent 
his earnings in treats for the boys, and the good- 
natured schoolmaster's wife said justly that she ought 
to keep Mr. Goldsmith's money as well as the young 
gentlemen's. When he met his pupils in later Kfe, 



^ " An * inspired idiot,' Goldsmith, hangs strangely about him 

[Johnson] Yet, on the whole, there is no evil in the 

* goosebeiTy-fool/ but rather much good ; of a finer, if of a weaker sort 
than Johnson's ; and all the more genuine that he himself could never 
become conscious of it, — though unhappily never cease attempting to 
become so : the author of the genuine * Vicar of Wakefield,' nill he 
will he, must needs fly towards such a mass of genuine manhood." — 
Carltle's Essays (2nd ed.), vol. iv. p. 91. 



STERNE AND GOLDSMITH. 305 

nothing would satisfy the Doctor but he must treat 
them still. " Have you seen the print of me after 
Sir Joshua Kej^nolds ? ^' he asked of one of his old 
pupils. " Not seen it ? not bought it ? Sure, Jack, 
if your picture had been published, I'd not have 
been without it half-an-hour." His purse and his 
heart were everybody's, and his friends' as much as 
his own. When he was at the height of his repu- 
tation, and the Earl of Northumberland, going as 
Lord-Lieutenant to L'eland, asked if he could be of 
any service to Dr. Goldsmith ? Goldsmith recom- 
mended his brother, and not himself, to the great 
man. " My patrons," he gallantly said, " are the book- 
sellers, and I want no others." ^ Hard patrons they 
were, and hard work he did ; but he did not complain 

1 " At present, the few poets of England no longer depend on the 
gi'eat for subsistence ; they have now no other patrons but the public, 
and the public, collectively considered, is a good and a generous 
master. It is indeed too frequently mistaken as to the merits of every 
candidate for favour ; but to make amends it is never mistaken long. 
A performance indeed may be forced for a time into reputation, but, 
destitute of real merit, it soon sinks ; time, the touchstone of what is 
truly valuable, will soon discover the fraud, and an author should never 
arrogate to himself any share of success till his works have been read 
at least ten years with satisfaction. 

" A man of letters at present, whose works are valuable, is perfectly 
sensible of their value. Every polite member of the community by 
buying what he writes, contributes to reward him. The ridicule, there- 
fore, of living in a garret might have been wit in the last age, but con- 
tinues such no longer, because no longer true. A writer of real merit 
now, may easily be rich, if his heart be set only on fortune : and for 
those who have no merit, it is but fit that such should remain in 
merited obscurity." — Goldsmith. Citizen of the World, Let, 84. 



306 EITGLISH HUMOUEISTS. 

much : if in his early writings some bitter words 
escaped him, some allusions to neglect and poverty, 
he withdrew these expressions when his works were 
republished, and better days seemed to open for him ; 
and he did not care to complain that printer or 
publisher had overlooked his merit, or left him poor. 
The Court face was turned from honest Oliver, the 
Court patronised Beattie ; the fashion did not shine 
on him — fashion adored Sterne.* Fashion pronounced 
Kelly to be the great wiiter of comedy of his day. 
A little — not ill-humour, but plaintiveness — a little 
betrayal of wounded pride which he showed render 



^ Goldsmith attacked Sterne, obviously enough, censuring his inde- 
cency, and slighting his wit, and ridiculing his manner, in the 53rd 
letter in the " Citizen of the World." 

" As in common conversation," says he, " the best way to make the 
audience laugh is by first laughing yourself; so in writing, the pro- 
perest manner is to show an attempt at humour, which will pass upon 
most for human in reality. To effect this, readers must be treated with 
the most perfect familiarity ; in one page the author is to make them a 
low bow, and in the next to pull them by the nose; he must talk 
in riddles, and then send them to bed in order to dream for the 
solution," &c. 

Sterne's humourous mot on the subject of the gravest part of the 
charges, then, as now, made against him, may perhaps be quoted here, 
from the excellent, the respectable Sir Walter Scott. 

" Soon after ' Tristram ' had appeared, Sterne asked a Yorkshire lady 
of fortune and condition, whether she had read his book. ' I have not, 
Mr. Sterne,' was the answer ; * and to be plain with you, I am informed 
it is not proper for female perusal.' ' My dear good lady,' replied the 
author, ' do not be gulled by such stories ; the book is like your young 
heir there, (pointing to a child of three years old, who was rolling on 
the carpet in his white tunics), he shows at times a good deal that is 
usually concealed, but it is all in perfect innocence.' " 



STERNE AND GOLDSMITH. 307 

him not the less amiable. The author of the " Vicar 
of Wakefield " had a right to protest when Newbery 
kept back the MS. for two years : had a right to be 
a little peevish with Sterne ; a little angry when 
Colman's actors decUned their parts in his delightful 
comedy, when the manager refused to have a scene 
painted for it, and pronounced its damnation before 
hearing. He had not the great public with him; 
but he had the noble Johnson, and the admii'able 
Reynolds, and the great Gibbon, and the great Burke, 
and the great Fox — friends and admu'ers illustrious 
indeed, as famous as those who, fifty years before, 
sate round Pope's table. 

Nobody knows, and I dare say Goldsmith's buoyant 
temper kept no account of all the pains which he 
endured during the early period of his literary 
career. Should any man of letters in our day have 
to bear up against such. Heaven grant he may come 
out of the period of misfortune with such a pure 
kind heart as that which Goldsmith obstinately bore 
in his breast. The insults to ivhich he had to submit 
are shocking to read of, — slander, contumely, vulgar 
satire, brutal malignity pervertmg liis commonest 
motives and actions : he had his share of these, and 
one's anger is roused at reading of them, as it is at 
seeing a woman insulted or a child assaulted, at the 
notion that a creature so very gentle and weak, and 
full of love, should have had to suffer so. And he 

X 2 



308 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

had worse tlian insult to undergo — to own to fault, 
and deprecate the anger of ruffians. There is a 
letter of his extant to one Griffiths, a bookseller, in 
which poor Goldsmith is forced to confess that 
certain books sent by Griffiths are in the hands of 
a friend from whom Goldsmith had been forced to 
borrow money. " He was wild, sir," Johnson said, 
speaking of Goldsmith to Boswell, with his great, 
wise benevolence and noble mercifulness of heart, 
*' Dr. Goldsmith was wild, sir ; but he is so no 
more." Ah ! if we pity the good and weak man who 
suffers undeservedly, let us deal very gently with him 
from whom misery extorts not only tears, but shame ; 
let us think humbly and charitably of the human 
nature that suffers so sadly and falls so low. Whose 
turn may it be to-morrow ? What weak heart, confi- 
dent before trial, may not succumb under temptation 
invincible ? Cover the good man who has been 
vanquished — cover his face and pass on. 

For the last half dozen years of his life, Goldsmith 
was far removed from the pressure of any ignoble 
necessity : and in the receipt, indeed, of a pretty large 
income from the booksellers, his patrons. Had he 
lived but a few years more, his pubhc fame would have 
been as great as his private reputation, and he might 
have enjoyed alive a part of that esteem which his 
country has ever since paid to the vivid and versatile 
genius who has touched on almost every subject of 



STERNE AND GOLDSMITH. 309 

literature, and touched nothing that he did not adorn. 
Except in rare instances a man is known in our pro- 
fession, and esteemed as a skilful worlanan, years 
before the lucky hit, which trebles his usual gams, 
and stamps him a popular author. In the strength of 
his age, and the dawn of his reputation, having for 
backers and friends the most illustrious literary men of 
his time, ^ fame and prosperity might have been in store 
for Goldsmith, had fate so willed ; and, at forty-six, 
had not sudden disease carried him off. I say pros- 
perity rather than competence, for it is probable that 
no sum could have put order into his affairs or sufficed 
for his irreclaimable habits of dissipation. It must be 
remembered that he owed 2000L when he died. " Was 
ever poet," Johnson asked, " so trusted before ? " As 
has been the case with many another good fellow of his 
nation, his hfe was tracked and his substance wasted 
by crowds of hungry beggars and lazy dependants. If 
they came at a lucky time, (and be sure they knew his 
affairs better than he did himself, and watched his pay 



1 " Goldsmith told us that he was now busy in w^'iting a Natural 
History ; and that he might have full leisure for it, he had taken 
lodgings at a farmer's house, near to the six-mile stone in the Edgeware 
Road, and had cari'ied down his books ia two returned post-chaises. 
He said he believed the farmer's family thought him an odd character, 
similar to that in which the Spectator appeared to his landlady and her 
children; he was The Gentletnan. Mi-, IVIickle, the translator of the 
* Lusiad,' and I, went to visit him at this place a few days afterwards. 
He was not at home ; but having a curiosity to see his apartment, we 
went in, and found curious scraps of descriptions of animals scrawled 
upon the wall with a blacklead pencil." — Boswell. 



310 ENGLISH HUMOUEISTS. 

day) he gave tliem of liis money : if they begged on 
empty-purse days he gave them his promissory bills : 
or he treated them to a tavern where he had credit ; or 
he obliged them with an order upon honest Mr. Filby 
for coats, for which he paid as long as he could earn, 
and until the shears of Filby were to cut for him no 
more. Staggering under a load of debt and labour, 
tracked by bailiffs and reproachful creditors, running 
from a hundred poor dependants, whose appealmg looks 
were perhaps the hardest of all pains for him to bear^ 
devising fevered plans for the morrow, new histories, 
new comedies, all sorts of new literary schemes, flying 
from all these into seclusion, and out of seclusion into 
pleasure — at last, at five and forty, death seized him 
and closed his career.* I have been many a time in the 
Chambers in the Temple which were his, and passed 
up the stair- case, which Johnson, and Burke, and 
Reynolds trod to see their friend, their poet, their kind 
Goldsmith — the stair on which the poor women sate 
weeping bitterly when they heard that greatest and 



^ " When Goldsmith was dying, Dr. Turton said to him, * Your pulse 
is in greater disorder than it should be, from the degree of fever which 
you have ; is your mind at ease ? ' Goldsmith answered it was not." — 
Dr. Johnson {in Bosioell). 

"Chambers, you find, is gone far, and poor Goldsmith is gone 
much further. He died of a fever, exasperated, as I believe, by the 
fear of distress. He had raised money and squandered it, by every 
artifice of acquisition and folly of expense. But let not his failings 
be remembered ; he was a very great man." — Dr. Johnson to Bo&wellt 
July 5th, 1774. 



STERNE AND GOLDSMITH. 311 

most generous of all men was dead within the black 
oak door.* Ah, it was a different lot from that for 
which the poor fellow sighed, when he wrote with heart 
yearning for home those most charming of all fond 
verses, in which he fancies he revisits Aubm'n — 

*' Here as I take my solitary rounds, 
Amidst thy tangled walks and ruined grounds, 
And, many a year elapsed, return to view 
Where once the cottage stood, the hawthorn gi'ew, 
Remembrance wakes, with all her busy train, 
Swells at my heart, and turns the past to pain. 

In all my wanderings round this world of care. 
In all my griefs — and God has given my share, 
I still had hopes my latest hours to crown, 
Amidst these humble bowers to lay me down ; 
To husband out life's taper at the close. 
And keep the flame from wasting by repose ; 
I still had hopes — for pride attends us still — 
Amidst the swains to show my book-learned skill, 
Aroimd my fire an evening group to di'aw, 
And tell of all I felt and all I saw ; 
And, as a hare, whom hounds and horns pursue, 



1 *•' When Burke was told [of Goldsmith's death] he bm'st into tears. 
Reynolds was in his painting-room when the messenger went to him ; 
but at once he laid his pencil aside, which in times of great family- 
distress he had not been known to do..; left his painting-room, and did 
not re-enter it that day. . . . 

"The stair-case of Brick Coui't is said to have been filled with 
mourners, the reverse of domestic ; women without a home, without 
domesticity of any kind, with no friend but him they had come to weep 
for ; outcasts of that great, solitary, wicked city, to whom he had never 
forgotten to be kind and charitable. And he had domestic mourners, 
too. His cofifi.n was re-opened at the request of Miss Horneck and her 
sister (such was the regard he was known to have for them !) that a lock 
might be cut from his hair. It was in Mrs. Gwyn's possession when she 
died, after nearly seventy years." — Fokster's Goldsmith. 



812 ENGLISH HUMOUEISTS. 

Pants to the place from whence at first she flew — 
I still had hopes — my long vexations past, 
Here to return, and die at home at last. 

blest retirement, friend to life's decline ! 
Retreats from care that never must be mine — 
How blest is he who crowns in shades like these, 
A youth of labour with an age of ease ; 
Who quits a world where strong temptations try. 
And, since 'tis hard to combat, learns to fly ! 
For him no wretches born to work and weep 
Explore the mine or tempt the dangerous deep ; 
No surly porter stands in guilty state 
To spurn imploring famine from his gate : 
But on he moves to meet his latter end, 
Angels around befriending virtue's friend ; 
Sinks to the grave with unperceived decay. 
Whilst resignation gently slopes the way ; 
And all his prospects brightening at the last. 
His heaven commences ere the world be past." 

In these verses, I need not say with what melody, 
with what touching truth, with what exquisite beauty 
of comparison — as indeed in hundi'eds more pages of 
the writings of this honest soul — the whole character 
of the man is told — his humble confession of faults 
and weakness ; his pleasant little vanity, and desire 
that his village should admire him ; his simple scheme 
of good in which everybody was to be happy — no 
beggar was to be refused his dinner — nobody in fact 
was to work much, and he to be the harmless chief 
of the Utopia, and the monarch of the Irish Yvetot. 
He would have told again, and without fear of their 
failing, those famous jokes ' which had hung fire in 



^ ''Goldsmith's incessant desire of being conspicuous in company 



STERNE AND GOLDSMITH. 313 

London ; lie would have talked of his great friends 
of the Club — of my Lord Clare and my Lord Bishop, 



was the occasion of his sometimes appearing to such disadvantage, 
as one should hardly have supposed possible in a man of his genius. 
When his literary reputation had risen deservedly high, and his 
society was much courted, he became very jealous of the extra- 
ordinary attention which was everywhere paid to Johnson. One 
evening, in a circle of wits, he found fault wdth me for talking 
of Johnson as entitled to the honour of unquestionable superiority. 
'Sir,' said be, 'you are for making a monarchy of what should 
be a republic' 

"He was still more mortified, when, talking in a company with 
fluent vivacity, and, as he flattered himself, to the admiration of all 
present, a German who sat next him, and perceived Johnson rolling 
himself as if about to speak, suddenly stopped him, saying ' Stay, stay — • 
Toctor Shonsou is going to zay zomethmg.' This was no doubt veiy 
provoking, especially to one so irritable as Goldsmith, who frequently 
mentioned it with strong expressions of indignation. 

" It may also be observed that Goldsmith was sometimes content to 
be treated with an easy familiarity, but upon occasions would be conse- 
quential and important. An instance of this occurred in a small 
particular. Johnson had a way of contracting the names of his friends, 

as Beauclerk, Beau. ; Boswell, Bozzy I remember one day, 

when Tom Davies was telling that Dr*. Johnson said — ' We are all in 
labour for a name to Qoldy's play,' Goldsmith seemed displeased that 
such a liberty should be taken with his name, and said, * I have often 
desired him not to call me Goldy' " 

This is one of several of Boswell's depreciatory mentions of Gold- 
smith — which may well irritate biogi-aphers and admirers — and also 
those who take that more kindly and more profound view of Boswell's 
own character, which was opened up by Mr. Carlyle's famous article on 
his book. No wonder that Mr. Irving calls Boswell an " incarnation 
of toadyism." And the worst of it is, that Johnson himself has suSered 
from this habit of the Laird of Auchenleck's. People ai-e apt to forget 
under what Boswellian stimulus the great Doctor uttered many hasty 
things : — things no more indicative of the nature of the depths of his 
character than the phosphoric gleaming of the sea, when. struck at 
night, is indicative of radical corruption of nature ! In truth, it is clear 
enough on the whole that both Johnson and Goldsmith appreciated each 



314 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

my Lord Nugent — sure he knew them intimately, and 
was hand and glove with some of the best men in 
town — and he would have spoken of Johnson and 
of Burke, from Cork, and of Sir Joshua who had 
painted him — and he would have told wonderful sly 
stories of Eanelagh and the Pantheon, and the mas- 
querades at Madame Comely' s : and he would have 
toasted, with a sigh, the Jessamy Bride — the lovely 
Mary Horneck. 

The figure of that charming young lady forms one 
of the prettiest recollections of Goldsmith's life. She 
and her beautiful sister, who married Bunbury, the 
graceful and humourous amateur artist of those days, 
when Gilray had but just begun to try his powers, 
were among the Idndest and dearest of Goldsmith's 
many friends ; cheered and pitied him, travelled abroad 
with him, made him welcome at their home, and gave 



other, and that they mutually knew it. They were — as it were, tripped 
up and flung against each other, occasionally, by the blundering and 
silly gambolling of people in company. 

Something must be allowed for Boswell's "rivalry for Johnson's 
good graces" with Oliver (as Sir Walter Scott has remarked), for 
Oliver was intimate with the Doctor before his biographer was, — and 
as we all remember, marched off with him to " take tea with Mrs. 
Williams " before Boswell had advanced to that honourable degree of 
intimacy. But, in truth, Boswell — thovxgh he perhaps showed moi'e 
talent in his delineation of the Doctor than is generally ascribed to 
him — had not faculty to take a fair view of two great men at a time. 
Besides, as Mr, Forster justly remarks, " he was impatient of Gold- 
smith from the first hour of their acquaintance." — Life and Adventures^ 
p. 292. 



STEKNE AND GOLDSMITH. 315 

him many a pleasant holiday. He bought his finest 
clothes to figure at their country house at Barton — he 
wi'ote them droll verses. They loved him, laughed at 
him, played him tricks and made him happy. He 
asked for a loan from Garrick, and Garrick Idndly 
supplied him, to enable him to go to Barton — but there 
were to be no more holidays, and only one brief struggle 
more for poor Goldsmith — a lock of his hair was taken 
from the coffin and given to the Jessamy Bride. She 
lived quite mto our time. Hazlitt saw her an old lady, 
but beautiful still, in Northcote's painting room, who 
told the eager critic how proud she always was that 
Goldsmith had admhed her. The younger Colman 
has left a touching reminiscence of him. Vol. i. 
63, 64. 

" I was only five years old," he says, "when Goldsmith 
took me on his knee one evening whilst he was drinking 
coffee with my father, and began to play with me, 
which amiable act I returned, with the ingratitude 
of a peevish brat, by giving him a very smart slap 
on the face : it must have been a tingier, for it left 
tlie marks of my si3iteful paw on his cheek. This 
infantile outrage was followed by summary justice, 
and I was locked up by my indignant father in an 
adjoining room to undergo soHtary imprisonment in 
the dark. Here I began to howl and scream most 
abomiuably, which was no bad step towards my 
liberation, since those who were not inclraed to pity 



316 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

me miglit be likely to set me free for the purpose 
of abating a nuisance. 

" At length a generous friend appeared to extricate 
me from jeopardy, and that generous friend was no 
other than the man I had so wantonly molested by 
assault and battery — it was the tender-hearted Doctor 
himself, with a lighted candle in his hand, and 
a smile upon his countenance, which was still 
partially red from the effects of my petulance. I 
skulked and sobbed as he fondled and soothed, 
till I began to brighten. Goldsmith seized the pro- 
pitious moment of returnmg good-humour, when he 
put down the candle and began to conjure. He 
placed three hats, which happened to be in the room, 
and a shilling under each. The shillings he told 
me were England, France, and Spain. ' Hey presto 
cockalorum ! ' cried the Doctor, and lo, on uncovering 
the shillings, which had been dispersed each beneath 
a separate hat, they were all found congregated under 
one. I was no politician at five years old, and 
therefore might not have wondered at the sudden 
revolution which brought England, France, and 
Spain all under one crown; but, as also I was no 

conjuror, it amazed me beyond measure From 

that time, whenever the Doctor came to visit my 
father, ' I plucked his gown to share the good man's 
smile ; ' a game at romps constantly ensued, and 
we were always cordial friends and merry play- 



STERNE AND GOLDSMITH. 317 

fellows. Our unequal companionship varied somewhat 
as to sports as I grew older ; but it did not last 
long : my senior plaj^mate died in his forty-fifth year, 

when I had attained my eleventh In all 

the numerous accounts of his virtues and foibles, his 
genius and absurdities, his knowledge of nature and 
ignorance of the world, his * compassion for another's 
woe ' was always predominant ; and my trivial 
story of his humourmg a froward child weighs 
but as a feather in the recorded scale of liis bene- 
volence." 

Think of him reckless, thriftless, vain if you like — 
but merciful, gentle, generous, full of love and pity. 
He passes out of our life, and goes to render his account 
beyond it. Think of the poor pensioners weeping at 
his grave ; think of the noble spirits that admired and 
deplored him; think of the righteous pen that wrote 
his epitaph — and of the wonderful and unanimous 
response of affection with which the world has paid 
back the love he gave it. His humour delighting us 
still; his song fresh and beautiful as when first he 
charmed with it : his words in all our mouths : liis very 
weaknesses beloved and familiar — his benevolent spirit 
seems still to smile upon us : to do gentle kindnesses : 
to succour with sweet charit}^ : to soothe, caress, and 
forgive : to plead with the fortunate for the unhappy 
and the poor. 

His name is the last in the list of those men of 



318 ENGLISH HUMOURISTS. 

humour wlio have formed the themes of the discourses 
which you have heard so kindly. 

Long hefore I had ever hoped for such an audience, 
or dreamed of the possibility of the good fortune which 
has brought me so many many friends, I was at issue 
with some of my literary brethren upon a point — which 
they held from tradition I think rather than experience 
— that our profession was neglected in this country; 
and that men of letters were ill-received and held in 
slight esteem. It would hardly be grateful of me now 
to alter my old opinion that we do meet with goodwill 
and kindness, with generous helping hands in the time 
of our necessity, with cordial and friendly recognition. 
What claim had any one of these of whom I have been 
speaking, but genius ? What return of gratitude, 
fame, affection, did it not bring to all ? 

Wliat punishment befel those who were unfortunate 
among them, but that which follows reckless habits 
and careless lives ? For these faults a wit must 
suffer hke the dullest prodigal that ever ran in debt. 
He must pay the tailor if he wears the coat ; his 
children must go in rags if he spends his money at 
the tavern; he can't come to London and be made 
Lord Chancellor if he stops on the road and gambles 
away his last shilling at Dublin. And he must pay 
the social penalty of these follies too, and expect that 
the world will shun the man of bad habits, that 



STEENE A:N"D GOLDSMITH. 319 

women will avoid the man of loose life, that prudent 
follvs will close their doors as a precaution, and 
before a demand should be made on their pockets 
by the needy prodigal. With what difficulty had 
any one of these men to contend, save that eternal 
and mechanical one of want of means and lack of 
capital, and of which thousands of young lawyers, 
young doctors, young soldiers and sailors, of inven- 
tors, manufacturers, shopkeepers, have to complain ? 
Hearts as brave and resolute as ever beat in the 
breast of any wit or poet, sicken and break daily in 
the vain endeavour and unavailing struggle against 
life's difficulty. Don't we see daily ruined inventors, 
grey-haired midshipmen, balked heroes, bhghted 
cm^ates, barristers pining a hungry life out in 
chambers, the attorneys never mounting to their 
garrets, whilst scores of them are rapping at the 
door of the successful quack below ? If these suffer, 
who is the author, that he should be exempt ? Let 
us bear our ills with the same constancy with which 
others endure them, accept our manly part in Ufe, 
hold our own, and ask no more. I can conceive of 
no kings or laws causing or curing Goldsmith's 
improvidence, or Fielding's fatal love of pleasure, 
or Dick Steele's mania for running races with the 
constable. You never can outrun that sure-footed 
officer — not by any swiftness or by dodges devised by 
any genius, however gTeat ; and he carries off the 



320 ENGLISH HUMOUEISTS. 

Tatler to the spimging-liouse, or taps the Citizen of 
the World on the shoulder as he would any other 
mortal. 

Does society look down on a man because he 
is an author? I suppose if people want a buffoon 
they tolerate liim only in so far as he is amusing ; 
it can hardly be expected that they should respect 
him as an equal. Is there to be a guard of honour 
provided for the author of the last new novel or 
poem ? how long is he to reign, and keep other 
potentates out of possession ? He retires, grumbles, 
and prints a lamentation that literature is despised. 
If Captain A. is left out of Lady B.'s j)arties he 
does not state that the army is despised : if Lord C. 
no longer asks Counsellor D. to dinner, Counsellor D. 
does not announce that the bar is insulted. He is 
not fair to society if he enters it with this suspicion 
hankering about him; if he is doubtful about his 
reception, how hold up his head honestly, and look 
frankly in the face that world about which he is 
full of suspicion? Is he place -hunting, and thinking 
in his mind that he ought to be made an Ambassador, 
like Prior, or a Secretary of State, like Addison ? 
his pretence of equality falls to the ground at once : 
he is scheming for a patron, not shaking the hand 
of a friend, when he meets the world. Treat such 
a man as he deserves; laugh at his buffoonery, and 
give him a dinner and a honjour ; laugh at his self- 



STERNE AND GOLDSMITH. 321 

sufficiency and absurd assumptions of superiority, 
and his equally ludicrous airs of martyrdom : laugh 
at his flattery and his scheming, and buy it, if it's 
worth the having. Let the wag have his dinner and 
the hireling his pay, if you want him, and make a 
profound bow to the grand homme incompris, and the 
boisterous martyr, and show him the door. The 
great world, the great aggregate experience, has its 
good sense, as it has its good-humour. It detects a 
pretender, as it trusts a loyal heart. It is kind in 
the main : how should it be otherwise than kind, 
when it is so wise and clear-headed ? To any 
literary man who says, " It despises my profession," 
I say, with all my might — no, no, no. It may pass 
over your individual case — how many a brave fellow 
has failed in the race, and perished unknown in the 
struggle ! — but it treats you as you merit in the main. 
If you serve it, it is not unthankful ; if you please, 
it is pleased ; if you cringe to it, it detects you, 
and scorns you if jo\x are mean : it returns your 
cheerfulness with its good-humom- ; it deals not 
ungenerously with your weaknesses ; it recognises 
most kindly your merits ; it gives you a fair place 
and fair play. To any one of those men of whom 
we have spoken was it in the main ungrateful ? A 
king might refuse Goldsmith a pension, as a pub- 
lisher might keep his master-piece and the deUght 
of all the world in his desk for two years ; but it 



322 ENGLISH HUMOUEISTS. 

was mistake, and not ill-will. Noble and illustrious 
names of Swift, and Pope, and Addison ! dear and 
honoured memories of Goldsmith and Fielding ! 
kind friends, teachers, benefactors ! who shall say 
that our country, wliich continues to bring you such 
an unceasing tribute of applause, admkation, love, 
sympathy, does not do honour to the literary calling 
in the honour which it bestows upon you 1 



THE END. 



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